Sustainable Development, Global Governance, and Justice

Severe poverty, massive inequalities and climate change are conspiring to create some of the most pressing practical problems facing humanity. Billions of people live in desperate poverty and are especially vulnerable both to shocks in the global financial system and to the impacts of climate change. A major moral reason to be concerned about climate change is the effect that it will have on the poor.
The extreme deprivation and vulnerability of persons living in poverty is inconsistent with an international order based on the inherent dignity of persons as articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The persistence of severe poverty, growing inequality, and increasing CO2 emissions are evidence of massive failures in our current system of global governance.
Within Research Area 1, research on politics is not understood one-sidedly as a process in which power, rule and violence, or structures acting over long periods of time and other factors, conceived as “external” factors, operate, but as one in which norms and normative orientations play a central role. Numerous issues associated with the problem of climate change provided an occasion to address fundamental moral questions concerning the possible emergence of a just international normative order. For example, the term “right to sustainable development” can play an important role in the arguments of poor countries that international climate protection policy must not neglect their legitimate development goals. A certain kind of intergenerational normative order also comes to the fore with particular urgency in the context of such questions. The view that people who are now alive have a moral obligation towards future generations to combat climate change justifies climate protection policies, but this view in turn also requires specific forms of justification.
This research project combined investigations into questions in moral and political philosophy with analyses of international organizations and institutions and of the kind of action that produces appropriate social change. The research of the PI focused in particular on the social and normative context of climate change and poverty. The dissertation project of the PhD student and assistant Daniel Callies entitled “Intentionally Manipulating the Climate: The Ethics and Governance of Climate Engineering” addressed arguments that can be brought against climate engineering research.
Key findings were the justification and clarification of the concept of the right to sustainable development, as well as the development of a forward-looking account of responsibility for a regime dealing with climate change. The arguments developed in this context support the view that the international climate regime must be designed in ways that make it compatible with the goal of the least developed countries to pursue economic development to overcome poverty. In addition, the importance of poverty for identifying and responding to climate change was defended. The arguments developed by Daniel Callies support the view that, although climate engineering research cannot be prohibited on moral grounds, a legitimate international governance structure is needed to regulate research and possible applications.

The most important events and presentations of this project:

Lecture: Progress, Destruction, and the Anthropocene (by Darrel Moellendorf), University of Duisburg-Essen, May 2017.

Lecture: Progress, Destruction, and the Anthropocene (by Darrel Moellendorf), Liberty Fund/Social Philosophy and Policy conference, Redondo Beach, June 2017.

Workshop: Author-Meets-Critic-Section on his The Moral Challenge of Dangerous Climate Change (by Darrel Moellendorf), ECPR Prague, September 2016.

Presentation: “Climate Engineering and Playing God” (by Daniel Callies), Warwick Graduate Conference on Political and Legal Theory, University of Warwick, England, February 2016.

Presentation: “Institutional Legitimacy and Solar Radiation Management” (by Daniel Callies),  Science, Technology, and Public Policy Fellows Workshop, Harvard University, November 2016.

 

The most important publications within this research project:

Moellendorf, Darrel:  “Taking UNFCCC Norms Seriously”, in: D. Roser and J. Heyward (eds.): Climate Change and Non-Ideal Theory, Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 104–124.

Moellendorf, Darrel:  “Can Dangerous Climate Change Be Avoided”, Global Justice Theory Practice Rhetoric 8, 2016, [online] http://publikationen.stub.uni-frankfurt.de/index.php/gjn [05.10.2017].

Moellendorf, Darrel:  “Global Distributive Justice: The Cosmopolitan Point of View,” in: D. Held and P. Maffettone (eds.): Global Political Theory, London: Polity Press, 2016.

Moellendorf, Darrel and Axel Schaffer: “Equalizing the Intergenerational Burdens of Climate Change–An Alternative to Discounted Utilitarianism”, Midwest Studies in Philosophy, XL, 2016, pp. 43–62.

Moellendorf, Darrel: "The Moral Challenge of Dangerous Climate Change: Values, Poverty, and Policy", Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

 


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