Climatic Change

, Volume 133, Issue 3, pp 397–406 | Cite as

Equality, justice and feasibility: an ethical analysis of the WBGU’s budget approach

  • Fabian SchuppertEmail author
  • Christian Seidel


According to the Budget Approach proposed by the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU), allocating CO2 emission rights to countries on an equal per-capita basis would provide an ethically justified response to global climate change. In this paper, we will highlight four normative issues which beset the WBGU’s Budget Approach: (1) the approach’s core principle of distributive justice, the principle of equality, and its associated policy of emissions egalitarianism are much more complex than it initially appears; (2) the “official” rationale for determining the size of the budget should be modified in order to avoid implausible normative assumptions about the imposition of permissible intergenerational risks; (3) the approach heavily relies on trade-offs between justice and feasibility which should be stated more explicitly; and (4) part of the approach’s ethical appeal depends on policy instruments which are “detachable” from the approach’s core principle of distributive justice.


Emission Trading Historical Responsibility Ethical Point Capita Emission Climate Justice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank Christian Baatz, Gregor Betz and the editors of the special issue for their comments on earlier versions of this paper. The authors also would like to thank Mercator Stiftung Switzerland and the UFSP Ethik at the University of Zurich for financial support of research without which this paper would not have been possible.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Queen’s University BelfastBelfastUK
  2. 2.Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU)ErlangenGermany

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