The Climate Categorical Imperative

Nowadays, people are too often forced to choose between doing what is morally right and doing what is economically beneficial. But sometimes, as with the fight against climate change, moral rectitude and economic interest merge, presenting an opportunity that must not be missed.

CAPE TOWNNowadays, people are too often forced to choose between doing what is morally right and doing what is economically beneficial. Indeed, their options sometimes appear to be mutually exclusive, making the decision of which path to take exceedingly challenging. Sometimes, however, moral rectitude and economic interest merge, presenting an opportunity that must not be missed. That is the case – from the perspectives of this Archbishop and former finance minister – with the world’s response to climate change.

The moral imperative is indisputable, as the effects of climate change – including extreme weather, temperature changes, and rising sea levels – are felt most keenly by the global poor, who have also benefited the least from the economic activities that cause it. Moreover, climate change could accelerate poverty and inequality in the future, meaning that, unless we address it in a timely manner, it will diminish – or even eliminate – future generations’ chances to achieve their development goals. Making every effort to minimize climate change today is, quite simply, the right thing to do.

Fortunately, the economic benefits of addressing climate change are also clear. After all, climate change carries significant economic costs – for example, those associated with more frequent and extreme weather events. Moreover, building a “green” economy, based on continued technological innovation, is the smartest and most efficient way to create new engines of sustainable growth and job creation for the next generation.

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