• This paper explores whether the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), a flexibility mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol, has contributed to poverty alleviation in countries that host CDM projects. We argue that the CDM should deliver pro-poor benefits to the communities in which projects are established, since poverty alleviation is integral to sustainable development, which is one of the main purposes of the CDM. After briefly discussing the background of the CDM, we discuss assessment difficulties…Read more
  • Is the EU ETS a just climate policy?
    with Jo Dirix and Sigrid Sterckx
    New Political Economy 5 (20): 702-724. 2015.
    The European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) is in dire straits. Prone to design problems and suffering from the effects of the economic crises the scheme is criticised for its poor achievements. In this paper we will analyse some of the features of this situation from an ethical perspective. The major part is dedicated to the complications within each phase of the EU ETS and to the recent developments it has undergone. We will briefly discuss the remedies suggested by prominent commenta…Read more
  • Strengthening bottom-up and top-down climate governance
    with Jo Dirix, Johan Eyckmans, Peter Tom Jones, and Sigrid Sterckx
    Climate Policy 3 (13): 363-383. 2013.
    Although the UN and EU focus their climate policies on the prevention of a 2 8C global mean temperature rise, it has been estimated that a rise of at least 4 8C is more likely. Given the political climate of inaction, there is a need to instigate a bottom-up approach so as to build domestic support for future climate treaties, empower citizens, and motivate leaders to take action. A review is provided of the predominant top-down cap-and-trade policies in place – the Kyoto Protocol and EU Emissio…Read more
  •  7
    Climate change and individual responsibility. Agency, moral disengagement and the motivational gap
    with Andries De Smet, Lisa Diependaele, Sigrid Sterckx, R. H. McNeal, and A. D. Smet
    Palgrave MacMillan. 2015.
    If climate change represents a severe threat to humankind, why then is response to it characterized by inaction at all levels? The authors argue there are two complementary explanations for the lack of motivation. First, our moral judgment system appears to be unable to identify climate change as an important moral problem and there are pervasive doubts about the agency of individuals. This explanation, however, is incomplete: Individual emitters can effectively be held morally responsible for t…Read more
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    Putting sustainability into sustainable human development
    with jo Dirix and Sigrid Sterckx
    Journal of Human Development and Capabilities 1 (14): 58-76. 2013.
    Abating the threat climate change poses to the lives of future people clearly challenges our development models. The 2011 Human Devel- opment Report rightly focuses on the integral links between sustainability and equity. However, the human development and capabilities approach emphasizes the expansion of people’s capabilities simpliciter, which is ques- tionable in view of environmental sustainability. We argue that capabilities should be defined as triadic relations between an agent, constrain…Read more
  •  6
    Climate Ethics with an Ethnographic Sensibility
    with Derek Bell and Joanne Swaffield
    Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 32 (4): 611-632. 2019.
    What responsibilities does each of us have to reduce or limit our greenhouse gas emissions? Advocates of individual emissions reductions acknowledge that there are limits to what we can reasonably demand from individuals. Climate ethics has not yet systematically explored those limits. Instead, it has become popular to suggest that such judgements should be ‘context-sensitive’ but this does not tell us what role different contextual factors should play in our moral thinking. The current approach…Read more
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    How New are New Harms Really? Climate Change, Historical Reasoning and Social Change
    with Derek Bell and Jo Swaffield
    Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 32 (4): 505-526. 2019.
    Climate change and other contemporary harms are often depicted as New Harms because they seem to constitute unprecedented challenges. This New Harms Discourse rests on two important premises, both of which we criticise on empirical grounds. First, we argue that the Premise of changed conditions of human interaction—according to which the conditions regarding whom people affect have changed recently and which emphasises the difference with past conditions of human interaction—risks obfuscating ho…Read more
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    Moral Disengagement and the Motivational Gap in Climate Change
    with Lisa Diependaele and Sigrid Sterckx
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (2): 425-447. 2019.
    Although climate change jeopardizes the fundamental human rights of current as well as future people, current actions and ambitions to tackle it are inadequate. There are two prominent explanations for this motivational gap in the climate ethics literature. The first maintains that our conventional moral judgement system is not well equipped to identify a complex problem such as climate change as an important moral problem. The second explanation refers to people’s reluctance to change their beh…Read more
  • The delegated authority model misused as a strategy of disengagement in the case of climate change
    with Andries De Smet and Sigrid Sterckx
    Ethics and Global Politics 9 (1): 29299. 2016.
    The characterisation of anthropogenic climate change as a violation of basic human rights is gaining wide recognition. Many people believe that tackling this problem is exclusively the job of governments and supranational institutions (especially the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). This argument can be traced back to the delegated authority model, according to which the legitimacy of political institutions depends on their ability to solve problems that are difficult to a…Read more
  •  32
    Emissions Trading Ethics
    with Jo Dirix and Sigrid Sterckx
    Ethics, Policy and Environment 19 (1): 60-75. 2016.
    Although emissions trading is embraced as a means to curb carbon emissions and to incentivize the use of renewable energy, it is also heavily contested on ethical grounds. We will assess the main fundamental objections and possible counterarguments. Although we sympathize with some of these arguments, we argue that they are unpersuasive when an emissions trading system is well designed: emissions should be accounted ‘upstream,’ on the production rather than the consumer level. Moreover, allowanc…Read more
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    Towards an Integration of the Ecological Space Paradigm and the Capabilities Approach
    with Jo Dirix and Sigrid Sterckx
    Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 28 (3): 479-496. 2015.
    In order to develop a model of equitable and sustainable distribution, this paper advocates integrating the ecological space paradigm and the capabilities approach. As the currency of distribution, this account proposes a hybrid of capabilities and ecological space. Although the goal of distributive justice should be to secure and promote people’s capabilities now and in the future, doing so requires acknowledging that these capabilities are dependent on the biophysical preconditions as well as …Read more
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    The capabilities approach of Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum has become an influential viewpoint for addressing issues of social justice and human de- velopment. It has not yet, however, given adequate theoretical consideration to the requirements of environmental sustainability. Sen has focussed on the instrumental importance of human development for achieving sustainability, but has failed to consider the limits of this account, especially with respect to consumption-reduction. Nussbaum has cr…Read more