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WIREs Clim Change
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Climate change and individual duties

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Tackling climate change has often been considered the responsibility of national governments. But do individuals also have a duty to act in the face of this problem? In particular, do they have a duty to adopt a greener lifestyle or to press their government to act? This review critically examines the arguments provided for and against such duties in the relevant philosophic literature. It first discusses the problem of causal inefficacy—namely the fact that individual greenhouse gas emissions appear to make no difference to the harmful consequences of climate change—and whether it clears individuals from any moral obligations related to climate change. Then, it considers various other arguments for the existence of such duties, including integrity, fairness, universalizability, or virtue. Finally, it assesses the existence of a duty to promote collective action through active citizenship. The conclusion emphasizes that most writers agree on the fact that individuals have at least some duties to take action against climate change, but that disagreement remains about the exact nature and, above all, the extent of these duties. WIREs Clim Change 2016, 7:798–814. doi: 10.1002/wcc.422

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Climate, Nature, and Ethics > Ethics and Climate Change

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