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Climate change and the threat of disaster: the moral case for taking out insurance at our grandchildren's expense

Rendall, Matthew

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Abstract

Is drastic action against global warming essential to avoid impoverishing our descendants? Or does it mean robbing the poor to give to the rich? Alas, we don’t yet know. Yet most of us can agree on the importance of minimizing expected deprivation. Because of the vast number of future generations, if there is any significant risk of catastrophe, this implies drastic and expensive carbon abatement unless we discount the future. I argue that we should not discount. Instead, the rich countries should stump up the funds to support abatement both for themselves and the poor states of the world.

Yet to ask the present generation to assume all the costs of drastic mitigation.is unfair. Worse still, it is politically unrealistic. We can square the circle by shifting part of the burden to our descendants. Even if we divert investment from other parts of the economy or increase public debt, future people should be richer, so long as we avert catastrophe. If so, it is fair for them to assume much of the cost of abatement. What we must not do is to expose them to the threat of disaster by not doing enough.

Citation

Rendall, M. (2011). Climate change and the threat of disaster: the moral case for taking out insurance at our grandchildren's expense. Political Studies, 59(4), doi:10.1111/j.1467-9248.2010.00877.x

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2011
Deposit Date Oct 28, 2010
Publicly Available Date Jul 24, 2014
Journal Political Studies
Print ISSN 0032-3217
Electronic ISSN 1467-9248
Publisher SAGE Publications (UK and US)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 59
Issue 4
DOI https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9248.2010.00877.x
Keywords Climate change; catastrophe; intergenerational justice; discounting; public debt
Public URL http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/1386
Publisher URL http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-9248.2010.00877.x/abstract
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/end_user_agreement.pdf
Additional Information This is the accepted version of the following article: Rendall, M., Climate change and the threat of disaster: the moral case for taking out insurance at our grandchildren's expense, Political Studies, 59(4) (2011), 884-899, which has been published in final form at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-9248.2010.00877.x/abstract

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/end_user_agreement.pdf





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