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Robin Attfield: Changing the Ethical Climate on Climate Change

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In this paper I examine Robin Attfield's defence of the idea of an equal entitlement to the atmospheric commons, his rejection of two historical approaches (Kyoto 1990 levels basis and aggregate emissions), and his neutrality between the Contract and Convergence approach supplemented with Millennium Development Goals commitment and the Greenhouse Development Rights approach. In the discussion I distinguish between the diversity of moral theories that support his principle, suggesting a widening of these, and the plurality of working principles that may be needed, again suggesting that the range may need to be broadened. Using another article on mediated responsibilities, I argue that the main emphasis on what states ought to do needs to be supplemented with a robust account of what individuals—in both the North and in the South—ought to be doing, prior to and independent of what laws, taxes, markets or social mores require—both as morally required in itself and as a necessary condition for states effectively doing what needs to be done.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2010

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