Mapping Climate in the Twenty-First Century
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Climate justice accounts for the most challenging global governance goal. In the current climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, high and low-income households but also developed and developing countries as well as various overlapping generations are affected differently. This article maps international climate change mitigation and adaptation regimes in order to derive fair climate stability implementation strategies. Based on insights on the current endeavor to finance climate change mitigation and adaptation around the globe, a 3-dimensional climate justice approach will be introduced to share the burden of climate change fairly within society. First, climate justice within a country should pay tribute to the fact that low- and high-income households share the same burden proportional to their dispensable income, for instance enabled through a progressive carbon taxation. Those who caused climate change could be regulated to bear a higher cost through carbon tax in combination with retroactive billing through inheritance tax. Secondly, fair climate change burden sharing between countries comprises of argumentations that those countries benefiting more from a stable climate, hence those with a larger landscape or higher population, who have more access to climate than others, should also bear a higher burden of climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. Countries that reap benefit from a warming earth should be obliged to finance international aid for those who are impacted negatively by climate change, e.g., climate refugees. In addition, building on case and international law, those countries that have better means of protection or conservation of the common climate should also face a greater responsibility to protect the earth. Thirdly, climate justice over time is proposed in an innovative climate change burden sharing strategy. Innovative compensation schemes to share the burden of climate change with bonds help weight the burden of climate change more equally between today’s and tomorrow’s society. A climate tax-and-bonds mix could subsidize the current world industry for transitioning to green solutions and future generations, who will enjoy a less carbon intensive industry and more stable climate but should repay those bonds. Thereby the current generation is advised to mitigate climate change financed through bonds to remain financially as well off as without mitigation while improving environmental well-being of future generations. This respective intergenerational tax-and-transfer policy-mix could turn climate change mitigation into a Pareto-improving strategy. All these efforts should alleviate the contemporary global governance predicament that seems to pit today’s generation against future world inhabitants in a trade-off of economic growth versus sustainability. Deriving respective policy recommendations for the wider climate change community is aimed at ensuring to share the burden but also the benefits of climate change within society, between countries and over time in an equitable and fair way.
KeywordsClimate change Climate change gains and losses Climate justice Development Global warming Fairness Intergenerational responsibility International law
Financial support of the Eugene Lang College of The New School, Fritz Thyssen Foundation, George Washington University, the Janeway Center Fellowship, New School for Social Research, Prize Fellowship, the Science and Technology Global Consortium, the University of Vienna, and Vernon Arts and Sciences is gratefully acknowledged. The author declares no conflict of interest. The author thanks Professor Duncan K. Foley, Professor Willi Semmler, Chairman Professor Lucas Bernard, Doctor Raphaële Chappe, Michael Flaherty, Doctor Ibrahim Tahri, Patrick Zeitinger and the participants of the 2017 Science and Technology Global Consortium at the United States National Academy of Sciences and American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington D.C. in March 2017, the students of the New School Eugene Lang College Spring 2017 ‘Behavioral Economics’ class and the participants of The New School Spring 2017 ‘Economics of Climate Change’ class and the Administrative Sciences Association of Canada Annual Conference on ‘Digital Economies and Cities’ at HEC Montréal in Quebec Canada in May 2017 for most excellent feedback on the presented ideas. All omissions, errors and misunderstandings in this piece are solely the author’s.
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