One of the most daunting problems facing the world today is climate change. As we move forward in finding ways to adapt and mitigate climate change, recognising the ethical problems associated with it is crucial.
NECESSITY TO CONSIDER THE ETHICAL DIMENSIONS OF CLIMATE CHANGE:
- Climate change has significant implications for international equality, as both the causes and effects of climate change are unequally distributed around (and within) nations. In general, countries that are least responsible for climate change have the lowest socio-economic capacity to cope with the adverse consequences of climate change, which is a significant ethical problem for them.
- Climate change, mobilised by the search for scarce resources, has the ability to cause conflict.
- The need for an ethical solution is therefore convincing.
- Other ethical concerns include: how present and future generations, developed and developing countries, etc., can identify and distinguish obligations.
MAIN ETHICAL CHALLENGES EXACERBATED BY GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE:
- Uncertainties in the scientific knowledge base that limit our ability to predict when and where the different effects of climate change will occur, and with what severity. The origins of such uncertainties include the following:
- Distributive justice issues: The ethical challenge lies in deciding specifically what is unjust and unequal in the distribution of the detrimental effects of climate change, but also in the distribution of the benefits of climate change-causing acts.
- Procedural justice issues: Who should engage in decision-making processes on climate change reduction, mitigation or adaptation measures? Vulnerable communities need meaningful opportunities to engage in climate-change adaptation decision-making.
- Human rights issues: We need to investigate the degree to which global climate change has any effect on the fundamental right to liberty, which includes the right of a person to use his / her property to better his / her well-being, as well as the right to choose his / her own way of life freely.
CREATION OF KEY THEMES FOR CRITICAL ETHICAL DIALOGUE:
- Global climate change itself represents an ethical challenge and there is no clear framework for an ethical response to the problems of global climate change, not just its future impacts. This follows directly from the fact that, in different contexts, different actors are expected to respond adequately, humanely and ethically to the challenges of climate change.
- Addressing the ethical dilemma of climate change is an opportunity to build a constructive conversation between States and other relevant stakeholders from which a new consensus on the issues will emerge.
APPLYING THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE AS A BASIS FOR ACTION IN THE FACE OF SCIENTIFIC UNCERTAINTY
- Scientific uncertainty has vast consequences for both regional and national policy-making.
- The implementation of the precautionary principle in decision-making takes on significance in this context.
- It notes that action should not be delayed to avoid serious harm to humans or the environment until rigorous scientific evidence on the causes and effects of that harm is identified.
- It asks governing bodies to aim to put systems and processes in place that are, on the one hand, durable and, on the other hand, responsive to human and environmental vulnerabilities.
CONCERNS ABOUT FUTURE GENERATIONS IN AN ETHICS OF CLIMATE CHANGE:
- With regard to every distant future generation, the alarming state of the present generation is that it still finds itself in a unilateral role: it is still in a role to behave with impunity, as there is no reason for reciprocity from those generations to come.
- As such, an important aspect of the ethical response to climate change is the concern of future generations.
REMOVING OBSTACLES TO SHARING AND DIFFERENTIATING RESPONSIBILITIES:
- The principal recognises that the real capacity to cope with climate change varies from country to country.
- Similar disparities exist within countries between sections of the population who can take action in the face of the threats of climate change and those who can not.