Ben Rabinowitz Workshop on Climate Justice

Submitted by Alex Lenferna on
Rabinowitz Workshop on Climate Justice

The Program on Values in Society and the Department of Philosophy will be hosting the Ben Rabinowitz Workshop on Climate Justice on the 19th of May. The event is open to faculty and students across the university. 

The schedule for the day is below. You are welcome to join us for the whole day or for any of the talks. If you have any questions please contact

Welcome and Refreshments 10am, Savery Hall 408 

Talks & Abstracts:

Alexandre Sayegh
Yale University
Title: Climate Justice After Paris: A Normative Framework
Time: 10:30am-12pm
Location: Savery Hall 408
 This paper puts forward a normative framework to differentiate between the responsibilities of different countries to fight climate change in the aftermath of the Paris Agreement. It argues that there should be a shift in approach from a differentiation in climate change mitigation targets (emissions reduction) to a differentiation in compensation (assistance and finance) between countries. With regards to duties, while arguing that developed, newly industrialized and most developing nations should commit to and scale-up their emissions reductions objectives, I will offer reasons why, in a non-ideal world, the notion of ‘historical responsibility’ and the ‘principle of capacity’ should be applied at the level of compensation. With regards to rights, I will suggest that a ‘right to energy’ should replace the ‘right to emit’. This will (i) provide a normative basis to realize the goal of climate change mitigation while allowing for poorer and developing countries to develop economically and (ii) provide an account of the dynamic duties of different countries for the scaling up of mitigation objectives in the long-run. This is a real world interpretation of the 1992 UNFCCC principle of 'common but differentiated responsibilities' that takes into account the progress accomplished in the COP21 in Paris and offers a solution to the still unsolved problem of differentiated responsibilities in a non-ideal world.
Biography: I am Postdoctoral Fellow at the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies and a Lecturer at the Department of Political Sciences at Yale University. I am currently lecturing on The Ethics of Climate Change. I am also affiliated at the Governance, Environment and Climate Initiative at Yale. I am particularly interested in climate justice
and its relation to climate policy. My current research focusses on climate justice and development, as well as on the ethics of carbon pricing. I have obtained my Ph.D. in Philosophy at University College London in 2016. My thesis focused on different aspects of the dynamics between ideal and non-ideal theory in politics. The empirical dimension of my thesis targeted two case studies: illicit financial flows and climate change. I also have an ongoing book project titled ‘Justice in a Non-Ideal World’.

Breena Holland
Lehigh University
Title: Ecological Resources and Capabilities Justice: How Much is Too Much?
Time: 1:00-2:30pm
Location: Savey Hall 408
 The capabilities approach to social justice, as developed by Martha Nussbaum, does not account for the natural environment’s role in protecting people’s capabilities to live dignified and flourishing human lives. To account for the relationship between the natural environment and social justice, ecological systems must be understood as preconditions of human capabilities, as well as something that can presents identifiable limits on the capabilities that government should protect. I refer to the latter as “capability ceilings” and argue that they should be established when the protection of some people’s capabilities allows those people to make choices that directly or indirectly harm ecological systems that are preconditions of other people’s capabilities. Thus, capability ceilings should be defined in relation to the resilience of ecological systems – or “ecological thresholds.” In proposing that there should be limits on individuals’ appropriation of ecological resources when it threatens system resilience, the argument for establishing capability ceilings falls into an emergent view of distributive justice known as limitarianism. The presentation will consider how a capabilities form of limitarianism can help to evaluate the justifiability of tradeoffs among different people’s capabilities. It will also consider limits relevant to the appropriation of ecosystem services involving pollution absorption, and propose why those limits justify establishing emissions quotas for the rich.
Biography: Breena Holland is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Environmental Initiative. Her primary research is in the areas of environmental policy and political theory and focuses on issues of valuation, justification, and participation in contemporary approaches to policy analysis and administrative rulemaking. For the South Side Initiative, Breena is currently involved in two projects related to environmental justice in the South Bethlehem community. First, she is directing the Community Gardens Working Group, which manages and runs projects involving the six community gardens on Bethlehem's south side. Second, she is leading the Asthma and Air Pollution Mapping Project, which carries out collaborative air monitoring research in order to identify and promote the use of pedestrian routes through the city of Bethlehem that minimize exposure to traffic-related air pollution. 
Breena earned her doctorate and master's degree in Political Science at the University of Chicago and she holds bachelor's degrees from the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management and the Department of Jurisprudence and Social Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. Her book, "Allocating the Earth: A Distributional Approach to Protecting Capabilities in Environmental Law and Policy" (Oxford University Press, 2014) draws on “capabilities theory” to address substantive and procedural dimensions of environmental injustice.

Catriona McKinnon
University of Reading
Title: Endangering Humanity: An International Crime?
Time 3:30-5:30pm
Location: Savery Hall 264

In the Anthropocene, human beings are capable of bringing about globally catastrophic outcomes that could damage present and future human life on Earth in unprecedented ways. This paper argues that the scale and severity of these dangers justifies a new international criminal offence of  'postericide’ that would protect present and future people against wrongfully created dangers of near extinction. Postericide is committed by intentional or reckless conduct that systematically creates such dangers. A proper understanding of the moral imperatives embodied in international criminal law shows that it ought to be expanded to incorporate a new law of postericide.
Biography: Catriona McKinnon is Professor of Political Theory, and Director of the Leverhulme Programme in Climate Justice, at the University of Reading. She has published three monographs - Liberalism and the Defence of Political Constructivism, Toleration: A Critical Introduction, and Climate Change and Future Justice - and has edited eight books on topics ranging from citizenship, toleration, basic income, climate ethics and governance, and including the textbook Issues in Political Theory for OUP (now going into its fourth edition). Her most recent published papers include ‘Endangering Humanity: An International Crime?’, Canadian Journal of Philosophy (2017), ‘Should We Tolerate Climate Denial?’, Midwest Studies in Philosophy (2016), and ‘Climate Justice in a Carbon Budget’, Climatic Change (2016). At present, she is completing a monograph defending the idea of a new international criminal offence ('postericide') that proscribes conduct fit to bring about the near extinction of humanity. After that she will write an introductory book on climate justice and ethics for Polity.