The Struggle for Climate Justice in a Non‐Ideal World

Midwest Studies in Philosophy 40 (1):9-26 (2016)
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Many agents have failed to comply with their responsibilities to take the action needed to avoid dangerous anthropogenic climate change. This pervasive noncompliance raises two questions of nonideal political theory. First, it raises the question of what agents should do when others do not discharge their climate responsibilities. (the Responsibility Question) In this paper I put forward four principles that we need to employ to answer the Responsibility Question (Sections II-V). I then illustrate my account, by outlining four kinds of action that should be undertaken (Section VI). Pervasive noncompliance also raises a second question: Given the lack of progress in combating climate change, should existing governance structures be maintained or changed (and if they should be changed, in what ways)? (the Governance Question). The paper briefly outlines a methodology for addressing this question and outlines what a nonideal response to the existing institutional structures would be (Section VII). It does so with reference to the Paris Agreement, and in particular the creation of a "global stocktake" (Article 14, Paris Agreement) and the "facilitative dialogue" (paragraph 20 of the ‘Adoption of the Paris Agreement’). The aim, then, is to set out an account of a nonideal theory of climate justice.

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Simon Caney
University of Warwick


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