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A normative framework of justice in climate change

  • Marco Grasso

    (Università degli Studi di Milano Bicocca)

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    The more the various dimensions of climate change are just, the more an international agreement is in principle attainable. That is the reason why justice plays a major role in favouring collective action against global warming. In this article I spell out the dominant notions of justice and the consequent criteria of equity for the main domains of global warming negotiations, in order to identify a normative ethical framework. As far as mitigation is concerned, for the definition of a just initial allocation of endowments the reference point should be a per capita distribution corrected by a factor which takes into account all undeserved inequalities, as suggested by Rawls’ theory of justice. With regard to the subsequent exchange of endowments, I consider the Pareto principle supplemented by the envy-freeness one as the most viable option. Turning to adaptation, my point is that the criterion of responsibility based on historical accountability is inevitable. The related underpinning of justice can be found in principle I of Rawls’ theory of justice. Finally, for the issues raised by the just allocation of compensations for climate related damages I consider Sen’s capability approach the soundest option.

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    Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Public Economics with number 0408001.

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    Length: 15 pages
    Date of creation: 04 Aug 2004
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwppe:0408001
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 15
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    1. Lasse Ringius & Asbjørn Torvanger & Arild Underdal, 2002. "Burden Sharing and Fairness Principles in International Climate Policy," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 1-22, March.
    2. Asbjørn Torvanger & Lasse Ringius, 2002. "Criteria for Evaluation of Burden-sharing Rules in International Climate Policy," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 221-235, September.
    3. Neumayer, Eric, 2000. "In defence of historical accountability for greenhouse gas emissions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 185-192, May.
    4. H. R. Varian, 1975. "Two Problems in the Theory of Fairness," Working papers 163, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    5. Arnsperger, Christian, 1994. " Envy-Freeness and Distributive Justice," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(2), pages 155-86, June.
    6. Francesco Bosello & Barbara Buchner & Carlo Carraro, 2003. "Equity, Development, and Climate Change Control," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(2-3), pages 601-611, 04/05.
    7. Carsten Helm & Udo E. Simonis, 2001. "Distributive Justice in International Environmental Policy: Axiomatic Foundation and Exemplary Formulation," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 10(1), pages 5-18, February.
    8. Böhringer, Christoph & Helm, Carsten, 2001. "Fair division with general equilibrium effects and international climate politics," ZEW Discussion Papers 01-67, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    9. Helm, Carsten & Simonis, Udo E., 2000. "Distributive justice in international environmental policy - theoretical foundation and exemplary formulation," Discussion Papers, Research Professorship Environmental Policy FS II 00-404, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    10. Panayotou, Theodore & Sachs, Jeffrey D. & Zwane, Alix Peterson, 2002. "Compensation for "Meaningful Participation" in Climate Change Control: A Modest Proposal and Empirical Analysis," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 437-454, May.
    11. Alkan, Ahmet & Demange, Gabrielle & Gale, David, 1991. "Fair Allocation of Indivisible Goods and Criteria of Justice," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(4), pages 1023-39, July.
    12. Adam Rose & Brandt Stevens & Jae Edmonds & Marshall Wise, 1998. "International Equity and Differentiation in Global Warming Policy," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 12(1), pages 25-51, July.
    13. Cooper, Richard N, 2000. "International Approaches to Global Climate Change," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 15(2), pages 145-72, August.
    14. James Konow, 2003. "Which Is the Fairest One of All? A Positive Analysis of Justice Theories," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1188-1239, December.
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