Distinguishing Mitigation and Adaptation

Steve Vanderheiden

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    Baer et al. (Baer, Athanasiou, Kartha & Kemp-Benedict, 2008) seek to develop a single index for distributing the burdens associated with climate change mitigation and adaptation, and to do so in a way that rectifies shortcomings that have been associated with other 'burden sharing' approaches. Commendably, they recognize the importance of 'development' as a moral imperative that often competes with environmental objectives in climate justice models, and acknowledge the importance of accounting for those affluent consumers residing in poor countries that are sometimes mistakenly not assigned any remedial burdens for climate change. Unfortunately, their GDR framework offers no unique mechanism 'to prevent national elites from escaping all burdens and shifting them to their poorest citizens' (Baer, 2009, p. 275), for which they fault the more popular equal per capita approaches. Aside from the dubious 'moral support' implied by a model that posits 'development' as a kind of individual negative right, the same disaggregation difficulties would seem to plague the GDR as have been invoked against other approaches that assign burdens to nation-states on the basis of aggregate national data. Indeed, the GDR would appear to do less for individual development interests than would equal per capita approaches (such as my own1) in that the former only posits an 'exemption from costly climate policy-related obligations' while the latter provide valuable resource rights that could at least in principle be earmarked toward improving conditions for the global poor. My focus here shall be on the first objective, however, which seems to purchase its parsimony at the expense of the moral foundations on which demands for climate justice rest.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)283-286
    Number of pages4
    JournalEthics, Policy and Environment
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009

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