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In the debates surrounding global justice, the overwhelming focus has been on the duties that fall to the affluent and powerful, and the emphasis has been on their duties to comply with various principles of justice. In this essay, I examine what those who bear the brunt of global injustice are entitled to do to secure their own entitlements and those of others. In particular, I defend an account of what I term the “right of resistance against global injustice.” To do so I advance several methodological and substantive claims. On the methodological level: I argue that in deriving and defining this right of resistance we can (a) learn from the normative accounts developed to analyze war, humanitarian intervention, civil disobedience, revolution and anti colonialism. However, (b) the right to resist global injustice raises some distinct problems; and, thus, the normative principles that should inform any right of resistance against global injustice are not reducible to those that govern the appropriate kinds of response to other kinds of injustice. Turning now to the substantive component, I propose an account of resisting global injustice that specifies (i) who may engage in resistance, (ii) what would constitute a just cause for engaging in resistance, (iii) against whom those engaging in resistance may impose burdens, (iv) what methods resistors can employ, and (v) in what circumstances resistance is permissible.
Cap-and-trade systems for greenhouse gas emissions are an important part of the climate change policies of the EU, Japan, New Zealand, among others, as well as China (soon) and Australia (potentially). However, concerns have been raised on a variety of ethical grounds about the use of markets to reduce emissions. For example, some people worry that emissions trading allows the wealthy to evade their responsibilities. Others are concerned that it puts a price on the natural environment. Concerns have also been raised about the distributional justice of emissions trading. Finally, some commentators have questioned the actual effectiveness of emissions trading in reducing emissions. This paper considers these three categories of objections – ethics, justice and effectiveness – through the lens of moral philosophy and economics. It is concluded that only the objections based on distributional justice can be sustained. This points to reform of the carbon market system, rather than its elimination.
It is now widely recognized that the Earth's atmosphere is undergoing profound changes. The most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that temperatures have increased in the last hundred years. It writes, for example, that “[t]he total temperature increase from 1850–1899 to 2001–2005 is 0.76°C ± 0.19°C,” adding ominously that “[t]he rate of warming averaged over the last 50 years (0.13°C ± 0.03°C per decade) is nearly twice that for the last 100 years.” In addition to this, temperatures are projected to increase in the future. All of the six scenarios considered by the IPCC found that temperatures will rise by 2090–2099 as compared to the temperatures between 1980 and 1999. According to the best estimate of the B1 scenario, temperatures will increase by 1.8°C. If on the other hand we turn to the A1F1 scenario, its best estimate is that temperatures will increase by 4.0°C. And if we examine the “likely range,” then the lower limit is 1.1°C and the higher limit is 6.4°C.
Sea levels, too, are projected to increase. According to one scenario (the B1 scenario), sea levels are projected to rise by 0.18–0.38 meters and according to another (the A1FI scenario), the increase is projected to be 0.26–0.59 meters. These projections, it is important to add, do not include “future rapid dynamical changes in ice flow.” They omit, that is, the massive sea-level rises that might occur because of the melting of ice sheets.
In its Fourth Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) has provided further confirmation that climate change will have serious impacts on human life. It reports that:
The global average surface temperature has increased, especially since about 1950. The updated 100-year trend (1906–2005) of 0.74°C ± 0.18°C is larger than the 100-year warming trend at the time of the TAR (1901–2000) of 0.6°C ± 0.2°C due to additional warm years. The total temperature increase from 1850–1899 to 2001–2005 is 0.76°C ± 0.19°C. The rate of warming averaged over the last 50 years (0.13°C ± 0.03°C per decade) is nearly twice that for the last 100 years.
(Solomon et al., 2007: 36)
In addition to this, the IPCC projects that temperatures will continue to rise. It employed six different Special Report of Emission Scenarios (SRES) and these all found that temperatures will rise by 2090–2099 as compared to the temperatures between 1980 and 1999. In some scenarios temperatures will increase by 1.8°C (the best estimate of the B1 scenario). In others temperatures will increase by 4.0°C (the best estimate of the A1FI scenario). If we examine the ‘likely range,’ then the lower limit is 1.1°C and the higher limit is 6.4°C (Solomon et al., 2007: 70). Climate change will also involve a rise of sea levels. Again the IPCC employs six different SRES scenarios. In some, sea levels are projected to rise by 0.18–0.38 metres (B1 scenario) and on others the increase is projected to be 0.26–0.59 metres (A1FI scenario).
It is now widely accepted that the world's climate is undergoing some profound and long-standing changes. One of the most authoritative sources of information about global climate change is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In its most recent report, the Fourth Assessment Report, the IPCC confirmed that the Earth's climate is getting warmer and is projected to increase in temperature. It concluded that the Earth has warmed by 0.74 degrees Celsius in the last 100 years and that, furthermore, that “[t]he rate of warming averaged over the last 50 years (0.13°C ± 0.03°C per decade) is nearly twice that for the last 100 years.” It devises six different scenarios. According to these six scenarios the likely increase in temperature ranges from 1.1°C to 6.4°C and the likely increase in sea-level ranges from 0.18 metres to 0.59 metres. The IPCC's reports reflect the research of hundreds of climate scientists and represent the most comprehensive and thorough account of the causes and impacts of climate change as well as what mitigation and adaptation is necessary. It does bear noting, however, that some distinguished climate scientists predict more dramatic changes to the Earth. Stefan Rahmstorf, to give one example, argues that sea levels may rise by more than the IPCC's projections. He argues that by 2100 they may have increased by between 0.5 to 1.4 metres compared to 1990 levels. James Hansen similarly has long drawn attention to the possibility of more serious climate scenarios.
It is widely recognized that anthropogenic climate change will have harmful effects on many human beings and, in particular, on the most disadvantaged. Specifically, it is projected to result in flooding, heat stress, food insecurity, drought and increased exposure to water-borne and vector-borne diseases. Various different normative frameworks have been employed to think about climate change. Some, for example, apply cost–benefit analysis to climate change. The Stern Review provides a good example of this approach. It proceeds by comparing the costs (and any benefits) associated with anthropogenic climate change with the costs and any benefits of a programme for combating climate change. On this basis it argues that an aggressive policy of mitigation and adaptation is justified. Whereas the costs of combating climate change, according to Stern, are quite low, the costs of ‘business of usual’ would be considerable. Other analysts adopt a second perspective and conceive of climate change in terms of its impact on security. For example, the High Representative and the European Commission to the European Council issued a statement on Climate Change and International Security which argues that climate change is ‘a threat multiplier which exacerbates existing trends, tensions and instability’. It argues that climate change will contribute to insecurities, such as tensions over scarce resources, land loss and border disputes, conflicts over energy sources, conflict prompted by migration and tensions between those whose emissions caused climate change and those who will suffer the consequences.
Recently much has been written about the ethical issues surrounding global politics. There has, for example, been a considerable literature on global ideals of distributive justice. However, amongst all this, very little has been written by political theorists on some of the most significant international institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Many discussions of global distributive justice tend to regard states as the central duty-bearers and assume that the pursuit of global justice requires, for example, an increase in states' overseas development budgets. There has, of course, been a considerable literature on some international institutions. Writers such as Daniele Archibugi and David Held have defended what they term a ‘cosmopolitan democracy’ where this calls for the democratisation of global political institutions. However, the focus of this perspective tends to be on reforming the United Nations.
My aim in this chapter is to provide a provisional and tentative analysis of the normative nature of international economic institutions, such as the IMF, World Bank and the WTO. I shall make particular reference to these three institutions, in part, because they play an important role and, in part, to simplify the analysis. However, it is not assumed that these are the only international economic institutions of import nor is it assumed that the analyses that follow cannot be applied to other institutions. To this we should also add that the chapter is exploratory in nature.
The paper has the following structure. In Section I, I introduce some important methodological preliminaries by asking: How should one reason about global environmental justice in general and global climate change in particular? Section II introduces the key normative argument; it argues that global climate change damages some fundamental human interests and results in a state of affairs in which the rights of many are unprotected: as such it is unjust. Section III addresses the complexities that arise from the fact that some of the ill effects of global climate change will fall on the members of future generations. Section IV shows that some prevailing approaches are unable to deal satisfactorily with the challenges posed by global climate change. If the argument of this paper is correct, it follows that those who contribute to global climate change through high emissions are guilty of human rights violations and they should be condemned as such.
It is widely recognized that changes are occurring to the earth's climate and, further, that these changes threaten important human interests. This raises the question of who should bear the burdens of addressing global climate change. This paper aims to provide an answer to this question. To do so it focuses on the principle that those who cause the problem are morally responsible for solving it (the ‘polluter pays’ principle). It argues that while this has considerable appeal it cannot provide a complete account of who should bear the burdens of global climate change. It proposes three ways in which this principle needs to be supplemented, and compares the resulting moral theory with the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibility’.
Charles Beitz's Political Theory and International Relations has had an enormous impact on analyses of the ethical issues raised at the global level. It was the first systematic discussion of such ethical issues in the last 50 years if not more. It remains a landmark for a number of different reasons. First, it stands out for the sophistication of its philosophical argument and the meticulous argumentation throughout. The latter is deployed not simply to provide powerful critiques of other perspectives (such as realism and the morality of states). It also puts forward and defends with considerable ingenuity a cosmopolitan theory of distributive justice. A second striking and impressive feature of the book is that it successfully integrates philosophical argument with a deep grasp of the nature of world politics and the empirical and theoretical literatures on salient aspects of world politics.
It is a commonplace that in many societies people adhere to profoundly different conceptions of the good. Given this we need to know what political principles are appropriate. How can we treat people who are committed to different accounts of the good with fairness? One recent answer to this pressing question is given by Brian Barry in his important work Justice as Impartiality. This book, of course, contains much more than this. It includes a powerful and incisive discussion of several accounts of distributive justice (‘justice as mutual advantage’ and ‘justice as reciprocity’), a critique of other attempts to defend liberal neutrality and a rebuttal of those who are critical of the ideal of impartiality. In this paper I wish, however, to focus on Barry's defence of liberal neutrality. The paper falls into three parts. Section I outlines the thesis that Barry wants to defend and gives a brief sketch of the argument he employs to defend it. Barry's argument makes two claims – what I have termed the Sceptical Thesis and the Agreement Thesis. Section II therefore critically assesses Barry's defence of the sceptical thesis and Section III examines the agreement thesis.
Liberal theorists have traditionally emphasized the importance of rights and just institutions. Recently liberalism and the liberal emphasis on rights have been criticized on the grounds that they are individualistic and overlook the importance of community and fraternity. In this Note I look at two particular arguments, made by the communitarian Michael Sandel, that have been levelled at the liberal emphasis on rights, namely, what I shall call the ‘circumstances of justice’ argument and the ‘crowding out’ argument.
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