Why Business Firms Have Moral Obligations to Mitigate Climate Change

In Martin Brueckner, Rochelle Spencer & Megan Paull (eds.), Disciplining the Undisciplined? Perspectives from Business, Society and Politics on Responsible Citizenship, Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability. Springer. pp. 55-70 (2018)
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Without doubt, the global challenges we are currently facing—above all world poverty and climate change—require collective solutions: states, national and international organizations, firms and business corporations as well as individuals must work together in order to remedy these problems. In this chapter, I discuss climate change mitigation as a collective action problem from the perspective of moral philosophy. In particular, I address and refute three arguments suggesting that business firms and corporations have no moral duty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: (i) that business corporations are not appropriate addressees of moral demands because they are not moral agents, and (ii) that to the extent that they are moral agents their primary moral obligation is to their owners or shareholders, and (iii) the appeal to the difference principle: that individual business corporations cannot really make a significant difference to successful climate change mitigation.
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