Edward Page, Associate Professor of Political Theory, University of Warwick
Climate change, by damaging the quality of life of populations already suffering from acute vulnerability and hardship, has the potential to cause serious harm to existing and future generations. Populations located in the developing world, due to their heightened physical and socio-economic vulnerability, are most vulnerable to such harm. Some of these harms will occur in the future if they are not prevented, some will inevitably arise in the future because they cannot be prevented, and some have already occurred. Where experiencing such harms goes beyond what is reasonable for an individual or group to bear as part of their ‘common but differentiated responsibility’ to share the burden of addressing - and coping with - climate change, a serious injustice arises that demands an ethical and policy response. Such injustice can be usefully viewed as a ‘first-order injustice’ if the associated losses and damages arise despite the adoption of measures of mitigation and adaptation and a ‘second-order injustice’ if the associated losses and damages arise as unintended effects of these measures. Both forms of injustice involve ‘losses and damages’ arising that would not have occurred but for climate change but raise distinct normative problems given their diverging origins. This research seminar explores some key normative puzzles raised by the new ethics and politics of ‘loss and damage’ as it relates to both first-order and second-order climate change injustice. In particular, the lecture focuses on which normative principles should guide measures seeking to address first-order and second-order climate change injustices experienced by developing states and how (if at all) new forms of policy can be designed that respect these principles.
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