Review: Climate Change: Justice and Future Generations

Article excerpt

Review: Climate Change: Justice and Future Generations By Edward A. Page Reviewed by A.M. Mannion University of Reading, UK Page, Edward A. Climate Change, Justice and Future Generations. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2006. 209pp. ISBN: 978-1-84376-184-6. $US 95 Hardcover.

The presentation of a new report on climate change by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a renowned international group of climate scientists, in January 2007, has once again drawn attention to the challenge facing humankind in relation to energy consumption and the reduction in carbon emissions. The panel reports with 90 percent certainty that global climatic change is due to human activity and that immediate measures are essential to mitigate the problem. Focusing on what has been a major environmental issue for scientists and is now a pressing international political issue, Page's book is timely. It highlights the ethical dimensions of the problem with emphasis on two themes: that there should be "a nuanced understanding of ethics" in the formulation of policies to manage climate change, and that the notion of distributive justice, i.e. how benefits and burdens should be fairly distributed spatially and temporally, should be integral.

Opening with a discussion on weather, climate, recent extreme events and the remit of the IPCC, attention is drawn to the injustice of human-induced climate change in relation to future generations. This is reminiscent of sustainable development theory of which climate change is an inevitable part and is also a component of the wider issue of the domestication of carbon (Mannion, 2006). There follows a survey of the historical development of the science of climate change and a synopsis of IPCC findings of relevance to intergenerational relationships, e.g. the uncertainties which surround the certainty of climate change, as well as the problems of estimating future socio-economic and cultural impacts. Issues such as the scope, dimension and currency of justice and the notion of sufficiency are examined in relation to future generations, e.g. the identification of benefits and burdens. …

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