Climate justice and the distribution of rights to emit carbon

Brendan Mackey*, Nicole Rogers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Most people accept that the climate change problem is real and a matter of
concern, even though it resides largely outside their everyday experiences. Yet
public debate on climate change, the impacts of global warming, what may or
may not happen, and who is or is not to blame, remains more of a cacophony
than a symphony. Vested interests compete with public good advocates for
popular support and the political will needed to either prevent or bring about the
required rapid and substantive changes in policy.
The scientific consensus, which is evidence based and not to be mistaken for the bargaining and trade-offs associated with normal social consensus, is that warming of the climate system is unequivocal and it is extremely likely that
human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-twentieth century. Climate change is now primarily the consequence of
humans burning fossil fuel, in particular coal, oil and natural gas, for energy,
thereby releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere more rapidly than natural
processes can remove it. Emissions from deforestation and degradation are also
significant. The result is an increase in the quantity or stock of carbon dioxide in
the atmosphere, which in turn leads to global warming and climatic disruption.
The solution is to decrease fossil emissions in order to stabilize the atmospheric
stock of carbon dioxide and thus avoid an unacceptable degree of climate
change. If we wish to avoid the catastrophic consequences of runaway climate
change for future generations of people and other species, this current generation must collectively take urgent action to achieve the requisite deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from all sources.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAccess to International Justice
EditorsPatrick Keyzer, Vesselin Popovski, Charles Sampford
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781317661115
ISBN (Print)9781138787339
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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