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Climate Justice in a Non-Ideal World$
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Clare Heyward and Dominic Roser

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198744047

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198744047.001.0001

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Difference-Making and Individuals’ Climate-Related Obligations

Difference-Making and Individuals’ Climate-Related Obligations

(p.64) Chapter 3 Difference-Making and Individuals’ Climate-Related Obligations
Climate Justice in a Non-Ideal World

Holly Lawford-Smith

Oxford University Press

Climate change appears to be a classic aggregation problem, in which billions of individuals perform actions none of which seem to be morally wrong taken in isolation, and yet which combine to drive the global concentration of GHGs ever higher towards environmental (and humanitarian) catastrophe. When an individual can choose between actions that will emit differing amounts of GHGs―such as to ride a bike to work rather than drive a car―does she have any reason to choose the lower-emitting actions? This chapter rejects the claim that individuals don’t make a difference when it comes to climate change. It discusses the nature of the thresholds involved and the way individuals’ actions impact causally on these, opening up the possibility that they do in fact have obligations to choose the lower- (or non-)emitting actions.

Keywords:   climate change, thresholds, making a difference, joint causation, aggregation problems

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