Fairness and Climate Change

A sense of fairness is universal among humans, but people often differ about exactly what fairness requires in a specific situation. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the debate over the need to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in order to avoid dangerous climate change.

PRINCETON – A sense of fairness is universal among humans, but people often differ about exactly what fairness requires in a specific situation. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the debate over the need to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in order to avoid dangerous climate change.

China and the United States are the two largest GHG emitters, and it seems unlikely that any global agreement to reduce emissions will be effective unless both participate. Yet, in international climate negotiations, their views of what each should do seem to be far apart. 

As professors interested in the issue of climate change – one from a leading university in China, and one from a leading university in the US – we thought that it would be interesting to see if we could agree on a fair principle for regulating GHG emissions.

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