No Justice in Climate Policy? Broome versus Posner, Weisbach, and Gardiner

Midwest Studies in Philosophy 40 (1):172-188 (2016)
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Abstract
The urgent importance of dealing with the climate crisis has led some influential theorists to argue that at least some demands for justice must give way to pragmatic and strategic considerations. These theorists (Cass Sunstein, Eric Posner, and David Weisbach, all academic lawyers, and John Broome, an academic philosopher) contend that the failures of international negotiations and other efforts to change economic policies and practices have shown that moral exhortations are worse than ineffective. Although Broome's position is similar in these respects to that of Sunstein, Posner and Weisbach, it differs in other important respects, including his understanding of the idea of justice, his disagreement with the policy approach (which he calls "efficiency with sacrifice") favored by the economists Nicholas Stern and William Nordhaus, and his proposal for establishing a new international financial institution, a World Climate Bank, in addition to putting a price on carbon. Elsewhere I offer a critical analysis of the position taken by Posner and Weisbach in their book, Climate Change Justice. Their arguments against allowing principles of distributive justice (narrowly understood) to constrain treaty negotiations fail to rule out the principles of John Rawls' Law of Peoples (which is a conception of the moral basis of a just international order, including states' obligations to secure basic human rights for all). Therefore their arguments against shaping climate treaties to reflect any principles of justice do not succeed in supporting their position. Here I offer a critical analysis of Broome's position. I raise and discuss objections to Broome's proposal for a WCB, and I argue that the continued relevance of these objections is contingent on how the proposal for a WCB may get developed.
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Archival date: 2017-04-26
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Justice as Fairness: A Restatement.Rawls, John & Kelly, Erin
Climate Matters.Broome, John

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2016-09-19

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