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Setting the scope of climate justice: the intergenerational challenge

Luzzatto, L. E. (2021) Setting the scope of climate justice: the intergenerational challenge. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00099567


Climate change poses questions of intergenerational justice, but some of its features make it difficult to determine whether we have obligations of climate justice to future generations, and if so why. Yet despite these challenges, there are reasons – including the predicted severity of future climate impacts – to think we have intergenerational duties of climate justice. This thesis develops an account of the scope of climate justice which shows that we have intergenerational obligations because many of our actions are based on presuppositions about future people. When agents engage in such intergenerational actions, they acquire an obligation to also recognise those future people as agents within their principles of justice, and with that a duty to respect their agency and autonomy. As most collective agents relevant to climate justice – who are the focus of this thesis – engage in intergenerational actions, this account grounds wideranging obligations of climate justice to future generations. The proposed approach is able to overcome the intergenerational challenges of climate change because it meets what I argue are three necessary criteria: it provides ways to cope with uncertainty, is able to deal with the complexity of climate change, and includes future people for their own sake. It meets these criteria by adopting an action-centred methodology that grounds our obligations of justice on the presuppositions of activity. Existing accounts of climate justice, on the other hand, have often paid little attention to justifying its intergenerational scope. This has left them vulnerable to objections like the non-identity problem and the non-existence challenge. The proposed account offers a way to circumvent those challenges and provides a robust basis for subsequent substantive accounts of intergenerational climate justice. In this way, it facilitates a theoretically sound and more forceful response to the urgent challenge of climate change.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Jubb, R. and Elson, L.
Thesis/Report Department:Department of Politics and International Relations
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:99567


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