Advertisement

Climate Change: Is the United States Sharing the Burden?

  • Paul G. Harris
Chapter

Abstract

As described in the previous chapter, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has declared that the Earth is undergoing an unprecedented level of atmospheric warming that will cause (and may already be causing) sometimes abrupt, frequently adverse, and oftentimes unpredictable changes to global climate.2 These changes will result at least in part from anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), including carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane. The vast bulk of GHGs presently in the atmosphere originated in the world’s economically developed areas, most notably North America, but also Europe, Japan, and Australia. The United States is the largest emitter of these gases. With about four percent of the world s population, it produces nearly one-quarter of all emissions of carbon dioxide, the most important GHG.3

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 2.
    J.J. Houghton et al., eds., Climate Change 1995:The Science of Climate Change (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996).Google Scholar
  2. See also National Research Council, Reconciling Observations of Global Temperature Change (Washington, DC: National Research Council, 2000), <http://www.nap.edu/books/0309068916/html/>, for updated information on global warming.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Energy Information Administration, Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 1996 (Washington, DC: Energy Information Administration, 1997);Google Scholar
  4. Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Review 1996 (Washington, DC: Energy Information Administration, 1997).Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Paul G. Harris, “Environment, History and International Justice,” Journal of International Studies 40 (July 1997): 1–33.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    For an earlier discussion of the ideas in this chapter, see Paul G. Harris, “Sharing the Costs of Climate Change: An Assessment of American Foreign Policy,” Cambridge Review of International Affairs 12, 2 (1999): 289–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 10.
    James P. Bruce, Hoesung Lee, and Erik F. Haites, eds., Climate Change 1995: Economic and Social Dimensions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), chapter 3;Google Scholar
  8. Richard Samson Odingo et al., eds., Equity and Social Considerations Related to Climate Change (Nairobi: ICIPE Science Press, 1994).Google Scholar
  9. 11.
    See Paul G. Harris, “Considerations of Equity and International Environmental Institutions,” Environmental Politics 5, 2 (Summer 1996): 274–301;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fen Osler Hampson and Judith Reppy, eds., Earthly Goods: Environmental Change and Social Justice (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996). Consistent with common usage, the term equity, as used here, refers to distributive justice, that is, the “fairness” or “rightness” of distributing benefits and burdens among people. I do not endeavor to arbitrate between the various definitions and interpretations of transnational equity. In reality, as the FCCC negotiations show, various interpretations of equity will be important in the formulation and justification of international agreements depending on the specific environmental issue subject to deliberation.Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    Judy Pearsall and Patrick Hanks, eds., The New Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998).Google Scholar
  12. 15.
    While considerations of fairness and equity between generations (intergenerational equity) and between species (interspecies equity) are important, here I focus on considerations of equity as they relate to contemporaneous distribution among people and relationships between and among countries (mfragenerational equity). For discussions of all three types, see David E. Cooper and Joy A. Palmer, eds., Just Environments: Intergenerational, International and Interspecies Issues (London: Routledge, 1995).Google Scholar
  13. 17.
    This typology mirrors Paterson’s framework. See Paterson’s chapter in Barry Holden, ed., The Ethical Dimensions of Global Change (London: Macmillan, 1992).Google Scholar
  14. See also Chris Brown, International Relations Theory (Oxford: Columbia University Press, 1992);Google Scholar
  15. Banuri; Bruce, Lee and Haites; and Paul G. Harris, “Affluence, Poverty and Ecology: Obligation, International Relations and Sustainable Development,” Ethics and the Environment 2, 2 (Fall 1997): 121–38.Google Scholar
  16. 18.
    Cf. Henry Shue, Basic Rights (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996).Google Scholar
  17. 20.
    Cf. M. Warnock, ed., Mill: Utilitarianism and Other Writings (Glasgow: Collins, 1962);Google Scholar
  18. Jeremy Bentham, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, edited by J. H. Burns and H. L. A. Hart (London: Athlone Press, 1970).Google Scholar
  19. 22.
    Immanuel Kant, The Moral Law, (London: Hutchinson, 1948).Google Scholar
  20. 23.
    John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971).Google Scholar
  21. Rawls argues that his theory does not apply much to international relations. Nevertheless, several scholars have argued otherwise, notably Charles Beitz, Political Theory and International Relations (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979).Google Scholar
  22. 24.
    Brian Barry, Justice as Impartiality (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995).Google Scholar
  23. 27.
    U.S. policy toward “common but differentiated responsibility” in the context of the climate regime is discussed in Paul G. Harris, “Common but Differentiated Responsibility: The Kyoto Protocol and United States Policy,” Environmental Law Journal 7, 1 (1999): 27–48.Google Scholar
  24. 33.
    Scott A. Hajost, “The Role of the United States,” in The Environment After Rio: International Law and Economics, edited by Luigi Campiglio et al.(London: Graham and Trotman, 1994): 18.Google Scholar
  25. 36.
    For a more detailed exposition of U.S. climate change policy, see Paul G. Harris, Understanding America’s Climate Change Policy: Realpolitik, Pluralism, and Ethical Norms (Oxford: Oxford Centre for the Environment, Ethics and Society, 1998).Google Scholar
  26. 51.
    Michael Toman, Michael Tebo, and Matt Pitcher, A Summary of U. S. Positions on Climate Change Policy (Washington, DC: Resources for the Future, 1997): 3.Google Scholar
  27. 54.
    The plan also included a $25 million interagency climate change program. Agency for International Development, Climate Change Action Plan (Washington, DC: U.S. Agency for International Development, draft, October 1997): 5.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Paul G. Harris 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul G. Harris

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations