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Is there an obligation to reduce one's individual carbon footprint?

Schwenkenbecher, A. (2014) Is there an obligation to reduce one's individual carbon footprint? Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 17 (2). pp. 168-188.

Link to Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13698230.2012.692984
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Abstract

Moral duties concerning climate change mitigation are – for good reasons – conventionally construed as duties of institutional agents, usually states. Yet, in both scholarly debate and political discourse, it has occasionally been argued that the moral duties lie not only with states and institutional agents, but also with individual citizens. This argument has been made with regard to mitigation efforts, especially those reducing greenhouse gases. This paper focuses on the question of whether individuals in industrialized countries have duties to reduce their individual carbon footprint. To this end it will examine three kinds of arguments that have been brought forward against individuals having such duties: the view that individual emissions cause no harm; the view that individual mitigation efforts would have no morally significant effect; and the view that lifestyle changes would be overly-demanding. The paper shows how all three arguments fail to convince. While collective endeavours may be most efficient and effective in bringing about significant changes, there are still good reasons to contribute individually to reducing emission. After all, for most people the choice is between reducing one's individual emissions and not doing anything. The author hopes this paper shows that one should not opt for the latter.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Routledge as part of the Taylor and Francis Group
Copyright: 2012 Taylor & Francis
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/22137
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