Economics Dictionary of Arguments

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Norgaard I 327
Climate Targets/Rights/Gardiner/Caney: Stephen Gardiner (2006)(1) [is] arguing that the interests at risk from potentially catastrophic climate change vastly outweigh considerations of reduced economic growth. Others, notably Simon Caney (2005a(2), 2009(3)), have argued that the right to a stable climate should be considered a fundamental human right, because the basic interests of life, health, subsistence, and security of place, all of which are endangered by climate change, are the foundations of both moral and legal human rights. Neither Gardiner nor Caney endorse particular targets, but their arguments would seem to support the most stringent targets currently entertained in the policy debates (e.g. reduction of CO2 concentrations to 350 ppm, well below today's levels).
Rights/Utilitarianism/VsGardiner/VsCaney: One counterargument is that loss of life is commonplace and should simply be treated as one more economic cost; otherwise resources will be wasted on climate mitigation that could save more lives through other means, such as the reduction of malaria (Schelling 1997(4); Lomborg 2006(5)). Yet it also seems wrong to say that we'll let millions of people die from
Norgaard I 328
pollution because we can spend part of the savings preventing harms to others more cheaply. There is, it seems, a fundamental tension between the utilitarian intuition that the sum of all suffering is what matters and the intuition about rights that what matters is precisely who is exposed to harm or risk and why (Baer and Sagar 2009(6)). >Utilitarianism.
Climate Targets: A consensus has gradually emerged that we should aim to keep temperature increase below 2 °C above pre‐industrial; yet many of the least developed countries and small island states now argue that the objective should be 1.5 °C. However, the emissions reduction pledges made by various nations through June of 2010 seem to fall far short of meeting even a 2°C objective, suggesting that, whatever the rhetoric, national economic interests still take precedence over global justice concerns.



1. Gardiner, S. M. 2006. A core precautionary principle. Journal of Political Philosophy 14: 33–60.
2. Caney, S. 2005a. Cosmopolitan justice, responsibility and climate change. Leiden Journal of International Law 18: 747–75.
3. Caney, S. 2009. Human rights, responsibilities and climate change. In C. R. Beitz and R. E. Goodin (eds.), Global Basic Rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
4. Schelling, T. C. 1997. The cost of combating global warming: Facing the tradeoffs. Foreign Affairs 76: 8–14.
5. Lomborg, B. (ed.) 2006. How to Spend $50 Billion to Make the World a Better Place. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
6. Baer; P. and A. Sagar 2009. Ethics, rights and responsibilities. Pp. 262–9 in S. H. Schneider, A. Rosencranz, and M. D. Mastrandrea (eds.), Climate Change Science and Policy. Washington, DC: Island Press.


Baer, Paul: “International Justice”, In: John S. Dryzek, Richard B. Norgaard, David Schlosberg (eds.) (2011): The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press..


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Gardiner, Stephen M.
Norgaard I
Richard Norgaard
John S. Dryzek
The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society Oxford 2011


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