Sharing the Responsibilities of Dealing with Climate Change: Interpreting the Principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities Dan Turton, David Eng, Ramon Das Victoria University of Wellington Overview and Goals • Set the scene: the climate change problem and the PCDR • Discuss the ethical principles for interpreting PCDR and their justifications • Argue for particular combination of ethical principles – distinctive justification • Identify some key unresolved issues/questions Climate Change Problem • Climate Change Problem: – Increasing concentrations of Atmospheric GHGs – Rapid environmental changes e.g. temperature – Likely to result in devastating consequences for humankind • Requires (perhaps!) reducing GHGs 350450 ppm by 2020 Good Solution to the Problem • Assuming we want to reduce atmospheric GHGs to some level by some time… • What are the best kinds of policies for distributing ethical responsibility to achieve this? – Criteria • Fair • Justified • Achievable Principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities • Principle 7 of Rio Declaration on Environment and Sustainability (1992) • “In view of the different contributions to global environmental degradation, States have common but differentiated responsibilities.” • Disagreements about interpretation • Current interpretations - unfair and inadequate Common Approaches: Polluter Pays Principle 1 • Those who pollute should pay • Justification – If an agent causes harm, they are responsible for remedying harm • Example Policies – Cap and trade on GHG emissions • Absolute cap (350-450 ppm) distributed on GHG emissions/capita – Taxes directly linked to polluting over quota Common Approaches: Polluter Pays Principle 2 • 2 Variations – Full liability – PPP regardless of whether the agent knows that the actions are harmful • Problems: 1. Inter-generational problem – Unfair to hold current generation accountable for actions of previous generation 2. Unfair to assign moral responsibility when agents aren’t aware of harmful consequences of their actions – Conditional liability (CPPP) – PPP conditional on ‘knowing’ • Practical problem - Fair but insufficient distribution of responsibilities to solve problem Common Approaches: Beneficiary Pays Principle 1 • Those who benefit should pay • Justification – if an agent benefits at a cost to others, the agent should pay for those costs – Avoids inter-generational problem facing PPP • Example policies – Developed countries that have benefited from GHG emissions should pay for majority of mitigation and adaptation costs – Taxes on profits from polluting Common Approaches: Beneficiary Pays Principle 2 • Problems – Not feasible – how do we distinguish when individuals benefit based on polluting versus non-polluting activities? – Unfair - Ignores knowing polluters – Non-identity problem Common Approaches: Ability to Pay Principle 1 • Those who have the ability should pay • Justification – ‘Drowning child example’ – Addresses problem of historical polluting • Example policies – Richer states should contribute to an international fund that helps poorer countries adapt to climate change and industrialise in a more sustainable way – Potential ability threshold band - annual per capita GDP(PPP) is above $4,000-5,000 (International $) Common Approaches: Ability to Pay Principle 2 • Problem: – In certain cases, APP assigns moral responsibility to the wrong agents and ignores other morally relevant factors • Knowing polluters Summary of Common Approaches • Individual Principles – Each fails to capture a moral dimension of the Climate Change Problem • PPP – Suffers from a dilemma about historical polluting • BPP – Ignores knowing polluters and measurement problem • APP – Unfairly assigns responsibility to those who are innocent and have the ability when others are morally culpable Hybrid Approaches • “The developed countries acknowledge the responsibility that they bear in the international pursuit of sustainable development in view of the pressures their societies place on the global environment and of the technologies and financial resources they command.” • PPP and APP (Caney, OXFAM AFI, and Our Account) Hybrid Approaches Caney Principles of Justice OXFAM (AFI) Our Account CPPP; APP FPPP APP; CPPP (50%) & APP (50%) Justification Universal None Sufficienta human right …rianism to equal share of atmosphere Our Hybrid Account • Hybrid of CPPP and APP – CPPP – it is wrong to knowingly pollute over the quota, but only if the citizens of a state meet a basic level of welfare (APP) – APP – states, whose citizens exceed a certain basic level of welfare, have a responsibility to mitigate and help other countries adapt to climate change… Justifying Our Hybrid Account 1) Sufficientarianism – All individuals should have access to basic level of well-being 2) States have… a) A primary responsibility – to ensure a basic level of welfare for their citizens, and… b) A secondary responsibility – to ensure the same basic level of welfare for all people 3) Wrong to knowingly pollute 4) 2a overrides 3 because fundamental moral considerations of humanity/welfare should have priority over narrow conceptions of justice How Our Account Works Meets minimum ability (welfare) threshold? Yes Moral responsibility to deal with its own culpable GHG emitting (CPPP) No Moral responsibility to pursue a minimally decent quality of life for its citizens (APP) Yes Moral responsibility to deal with nonculpable historical GHG emissions (APP) Policies should incentivise reduction of GHG emissions to safe levels Policies should ensure contribution to an international fund that helps poorer countries adapt to climate change and industrialised in a more sustainable way Policies should allow for increase in GHG emissions, but only in order to increase the well-being of citizens Some Difficult Unresolved Issues • What is a minimally good life? • What is required to reach this basic level of sufficiency? • What is the best way of measuring well-being? • How do moral responsibilities get translated into specific GHG targets? • What should be the overall target for atmospheric GHGs? • How should future people be valued?