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Environmental Values

Radically Non-Ideal Climate Politics and the Obligation to at Least Vote Green

Aaron Maltais

Environmental Values 22 (2013): 589-608. doi: 10.3197/096327113X13745164553798


Obligations to reduce one's green house gas emissions appear to be difficult to justify prior to large-scale collective action because an individual's emissions have virtually no impact on the environmental problem. However, I show that individuals' emissions choices raise the question of whether or not they can be justified as fair use of what remains of a safe global emissions budget. This is true both before and after major mitigation efforts are in place. Nevertheless, it remains difficult to establish an obligation to reduce personal emissions because it appears unlikely that governments will in fact maintain safe emissions budgets. The result, I claim, is that under current conditions we lack outcome, fairness, promotional, virtue or duty based grounds for seeing personal emissions reductions as morally obligatory.


Individual obligations, global warming, emissions, non-ideal, fairness.

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

Climate, Collective Action and Individual Ethical Obligations. Marion Hourdequin

Climate Change and Individual Responsibility: A Reply to Johnson. Marion Hourdequin

Ethical Obligations in a Tragedy of the Commons. Baylor L. Johnson

The Possibility of a Joint Communiqué: My Response to Hourdequin. Baylor Johnson

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles

Editorial: Equity, Ethics and Evidence in Environmental Governance. Claudia Carter

How Demanding is Our Climate Duty? An Application of the No-Harm Principle to Individual Emissions. Augustin Fragnière

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