It's the Environment, Stupid.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The ethics involved

I know I just blogged about Oikos Saturday - but David Jeffery's comments from Sunday on "The ethics, politics and economics of climate change" is worth reading. I've included a couple of excerpts here.

"I have a concern that as environmentalists operating in a capitalist system and a very pro-market political environment, we sometimes tend to tack rather half-baked business arguments onto ethical arguments. We say ‘You should do this, it’s good for the environment. Oh, and it will also save you money’, but we don’t necessarily think through the second part of our claim."

"It is unethical and immoral for a small country like Australia to emit disproportionately high levels of greenhouse gases when climate change will cause such huge global problems. It is hypocritical for a country like Australia to say it won’t agree to binding targets until developing countries with much, much lower per capita emissions also agree to reduce their emissions. And it is politically unwise to white-ant international solutions like Kyoto when Australia has so much to lose from climate change and needs international co-operation. But it’s not economically crazy to continue to emit high levels of greenhouse gases."

"Environmental advocates have a responsibility to present the ethical, moral, political and economic arguments for improving our economic performance. But we should also recognise when one of those arguments is weak. In my opinion, some of the purely economic arguments for reducing emissions – at a national level – are weak. We should recognise that, and present the other arguments (including the argument that narrow economic self-interest shouldn’t always win), rather than pretending that there’s no debate. After all, the other arguments are overwhelmingly in favour of acting now and acting decisively."

Read the full post on Oikos here.


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