1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of Applied Climate Change Ethics

Edited By Donald A. Brown, Kathryn Gwiazdon, Laura Westra Copyright 2024

    The Routledge Handbook of Applied Climate Change Ethics is a powerful reference source for the identification and exploration of the underlying ethical issues in climate change law and policy. Bridging theory with practice, it takes ethical engagement out of the classroom and into the halls of governance.

    The Handbook‘s 39 chapters--written by a diverse and inter-disciplinary team of experts from around the world--are case studies divided into five parts. Parts I-IV highlight the ethical issues that arise in climate change policy formation, from duties not to harm to duties to consider the views and voices of those who will be, or are being, harmed; from the role of human rights, justice, and democracy to how to identify and respond to disinformation and denialism. It also raises the ethics of various policy responses, such as cap-and-trade, carbon taxing, and geo-engineering. Part V offers a way forward, with strategies on how to expressly consider ethics in climate change policy formation, from negotiations to education, media, communication, and the power and potential of shaming.

    The volume is essential reading for students, professors, and practitioners who wish to better engage with government and non-government organizations on climate policy, to better understand the practical application of the theory and philosophy of ethics, and how to more strongly draft and defend ethical action in negotiating, drafting, and defending climate change law and policy.

    Donald Brown and Kathryn Gwiazdon

    Part I: Ethical Issues that Arise in Governments’ Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Policy Formations

    1. Duties of Nation-States to Prevent Activities Within Their Jurisdiction that Harm People and Nations Outside Their Boundaries: The Meaning of the No Harm Principle as Applied to International Relations
    Nigel Dower

    2. Duties to Not Harm Ecological Systems, Plants, and Animals
    Michelle Maloney

    3. Duties to Consider the Views of Those Who Will Be Harmed by Climate Change
    Rainier A. Ibana

    4. The Ethics of Climate Targets: Extinction Rebellion V. The Climate Establishment
    Stephen Gardiner

    5. The Role of Human Rights in Setting a National Greenhouse Gas Emissions Target
    Bridget Lewis and Donald A. Brown

    6. Appropriate Application of Equity: The Case Study of Brazil’s National Determined Contributions
    Maria Silvia Muylaert de Araujo

    7. Mitigation Duties of Poor and Vulnerable Countries
    Steve Vanderheiden

    Part II: Ethical Issues that Arise from the Responsibility to Respond to Unavoidable Climate Change Harms

    8. Justice and Democracy in Climate Change Adaptation
    Bruce Jennings

    9. Socially Constructed Expectations of Certainty in Climate Science
    Kirk Junker

    10. Ethical Obligations to Develop and Support a Precautionary Principle to Guide National Responses to Climate Change
    Carl Cranor

    11. The Ethical Responsibility of Developed Nations to Help Finance Adaptation Costs in Poor Developing Countries
    Workineh Kelbessa

    12. Climate Justice in Nigeria: A Pathway to Defending the Rights of Disproportionately Affected Persons
    Ngozi Unuigbe

    13. The Responsibility of Nations to Address Climate Refugees and Displaced Persons
    Donald Brown

    14. Taking Moral Responsibility for Climate Change by Cities
    Johan Hattingh

    15. The Lisbon Case Study: The Ethical Obligations of Urban Policymakers to Support Policies Entailed by Mainstream Climate Science
    Karla Matos

    16. The Ethical Responsibility of Individuals to Reduce Greenhouse Gases
    Rainier A. Ibana

    Part III: Ethical Issues Raised by Arguments Frequently Made in Opposition to Climate Change Policies

    17. Instrumental Reasoning and Climate Policy
    J. Timmons Roberts and Donald A. Brown

    18. Ethical Problems with Cost Arguments Made in Opposition to Climate Change Policies
    Stephen M. Gardiner and Donald A. Brown

    19. The Climate Change Disinformation Campaign: Attacking the Common Good, Advancing the Self, and Destroying Democracy
    Kathryn Gwiazdon and Donald A. Brown

    20. Ethical Rules that Climate Change Skeptics Should Abide By
    Donald Brown

    21. Climate Change, Difficulty, and Ignorance
    Philip Robichaud

    22. Saving Democracy: Denying the Alternate Reality of Climate Denialism
    Kathryn Gwiazdon

    Part IV: Ethical Issues Raised by Various Policy Responses to Climate Change

    23. Ethical Issues Raised by Cap-and-Trade Regimes
    Nicholas Bryner

    24. Ethical Issues Raised by Carbon Taxing Regimes
    Cristiane Derani

    25. An Ethical Approach to Assessments of Harm from Climate Change and Global Heating: The Problem with Integrated Assessment Models and Other Value-Laden Tools
    Geoffrey Garver

    26. Ethical Issues Raised by Geoengineering Technologies to Reduce the Threat of Climate Change
    Shi Jun

    27. The Ethics of Carbon Offsets and Their Afterlives in Tropical Forests
    Maron Greenleaf

    28. Key Ethical Issues for Climate-Forest Policies
    Brendan Mackey and Nicole Rogers

    29. Paris’ Article 6 Deadlock: Climate Change, from Globalization to Nationalism
    José Domingos Gonzalez Miguez and Thiago de Araújo Mendes

    30. New Zealand’s Net Zero Carbon Legislation: Obfuscation and Missed Opportunities to Move Beyond the Dominance of National Self-Interest
    Prue Taylor

    31. Human Rights-Based Approaches to Climate Litigation: A Critical Perspective of the Indigenous Athabaskans Case
    Giada Giacomini

    Part V: A Way Forward: Strategies to Expressly Consider Ethics in Climate Change Policy Formation

    32. Ethical Guidance for Negotiating and Arguing About Climate Change
    Hugh Breakey

    33. Ethical and Ecological Education: An Approach to Climate Change through the Lens of the Earth Charter
    Mirian Vilela

    34. Farming Knowledge: Epistemic Injustice and Climate Services
    Dina Townsend

    35. Strategies to Increase Media Coverage of Ethical Issues That Arise in Climate Change Policy Formation
    Peter Burdon

    36. Why We Need ‘Cultural Intelligence’ in Climate Change Communication, and How Integral Theory Can Help
    David Storey

    37. On the Effectiveness and Legitimacy of ‘Shaming’ as a Strategy for Combatting Climate Change
    Behnam Taebi and Azar Safari

    38. The Art of Disobedience: Climate Justice Activism
    Benjamin Richardson

    39. Environmental Personhood: A Novel Principle of International Law?
    Alessandro Pelizzon


    Donald A. Brown is Scholar in Residence for Sustainability Ethics and Law at Widener University Commonwealth Law School in Harrisburg, USA. He has taught or lectured on climate change ethical/policy issues in 38 countries approximately 80 times. He also manages the award-winning website ethicsandclimate.org which contains over 200 articles and videos on climate ethics.

    Kathryn Gwiazdon is Professor of Public International Law, Climate Change Law and Policy, and Human Rights Law at the Northern Illinois University College of Law, USA. She is also the Executive Director of the Center for Environmental Ethics and Law, as well as Chair of the Ethics Specialist Group of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law.

    Laura Westra is Professor Emeritus from the Department of Philosophy at University of Windsor in Windsor, Canada. She is also Founder and Director of Global Ecological Integrity Group, a research group dedicated to pushing the boundaries of scholarly endeavor through inter- and trans-disciplinary engagement on matters affecting and governing the sustainability of life for both present and future generations.