"The accident of where one is born is just that, an accident; any human being might have been born in any nation"
Martha Nussbaum, 'Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism' in For Love of Country (Beacon Press, 2002)

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

CFP: Climate Change

Call for Papers

What: Climate Change: A Conference on Politics, Policy, and Justice
Where: Bern University, Bern, Switzerland
When: August 19-21, 2009

Please send abstracts (500-800 words) for paper proposals to climateandjustice@gmail.com no later than May 1st. Applicants will know of their acceptance by May 15th. Quality papers will be invited to contribute to an edited collection of the conference proceedings. Graduate students are encouraged to submit proposals, as travel funding has been set aside to aid exemplary graduate student presenters. For more information, please see the conference website: www.climateandjustice.org. The site will be continually updated with travel and lodging information, the conference schedule, and other useful information as it becomes available. If you have further questions, please contact Sarah at sbkenehan@gmail.com.

Keynote speakers:
Simon Caney, Oxford
Lukas Meyer, Graz University
Stephen Gardiner, University of Washington

Conference Abstract: Since the late 1980s climate change has been centre-stage in the international policy arena. However, as of yet, little has been done to incorporate all global players while at the same time catalysing the type of action that must be taken in order to combat this problem. There are likely many reasons for this current inaction, including but surely not limited to: questions surrounding climate science and predictions; questions concerning the most effective way to cope with the problem; and questions relating to the fair distribution of the burden of dealing with climate change. The focus of this conference will be to discuss the latter issue, i.e. the role of justice as it arises in the context of climate change. Justice related issues emerge in the debate over climate change policy on many levels. First, and probably most obviously, it must be determined what role each global actor will play in any coordinated effort to mitigate climate change. The answer to this question is not straightforward, as there are numerous factors that must be considered, including whether rights to emit greenhouse gases (GHG) should be divided equally among all nations, or whether rights to emit should be a function of the geographical placement of a nation, the population of a nation, the level of development of a nation, or even perhaps some combination of these elements. Second, and intimately related to the first issue, it has to be decided to what degree (if any) a nation’s historical emissions ought to be considered. As with the first issue, there is no clear-cut way to work through this problem, since there are seemingly justifiable reasons for engaging in all of the following: severely limiting the largest historical emitters’ claims to present and future emissions, considering only the historical record from the point in time in which a nation could reasonably have known of the harm it was contributing to, or, alternatively, agreeing that historical emissions should have no weight in the discussion, but rather all nations should agree on a fair emissions target from the present forward. Third, it must be determined to what degree (if any) future people ought to be taken into consideration when establishing climate change policy, since it has been predicted that the effects of climate change will stretch far into the future. Addressing this question requires having discussions on how future people can have justice claims on current people, what those justice claims might be, and how far into the future these claims reach. Fourth, it must be determined what types of entities have viable justice claims. Is it only individual persons that can make coherent justice claims? Or can nations, industries, businesses, non-human animals, species, ecosystems, and the like have and make meaningful justice claims? Finally, we must determine the level of responsibility individual actors have in mitigating and adapting to climate change, since it is not evident whether this responsibility falls only on nations, or whether it also rests with individuals, businesses, and industries, as well. Clearly then, the issue of justice and climate change is both complex and requires immediate attention.

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