Mosquera, Julia , Jylhä, Kirsti | 2022
International Journal of Philosophical Studies, Vol. 30, Issue 3: Ethics and the Emotions
Climate change evokes different emotions in people. Recently, climate emotions have become a matter of normative scrutiny in the public debate. This phenomenon, which we refer to as the normativization of climate emotions, manifests at two levels. At the individual level, people are faced with affective dilemmas, situations where they are genuinely uncertain about what is the right way to feel in the face of climate change. At the collective level, the public debate reflects disagreement about which emotions are appropriate to feel in the climate context. The aim of this paper is to examine the normative reasons in favour of different climate emotions by combining normative criteria from philosophy and psychology, such as rationality-based and consequentialist ones. We conclude that these criteria provide partial reasons for or against different climate emotions and that the suitability of each criterion will depend on various considerations, including the specific object that the emotion is directed to. We suggest that emotional disagreement in climate contexts may generate distrust, potentially hindering cooperation for climate action. We propose that we can ease challenges like this if we come to terms with the complex nature of climate emotions and their normative justification.