For more detail on the subtle differences between these schemes, see Catherine Bottrill, “Understanding DTQs and PCAs,” ECI Working Paper (2006), http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/research/energy/downloads/pct/dtq-and-pca.pdf (accessed September 24, 2008); and Simon Roberts and Joshua Thumim, A Rough Guide to Individual Carbon Trading: The Ideas, the Issues and the Next Steps, Centre for Sustainable Energy report to Defra (2006), http://www.cse.org.uk/pdf/news1270.pdf (accessed September 24, 2008).
Cf. Paul Baer, “Equity, Greenhouse-Gas Emissions, and Global Common Resources,” in Climate Change Policy: A Survey, ed. Stephen H. Schneider, Armin Rosencranz and John O. Niles (Washington, DC: Island Press, 2002), 393–408, at 401.
David Fleming, Paper 11—Tradable Quotas: Setting Limits to Carbon Emissions (London: The Lean Economy Initiative, 1997); David Fleming, “Tradable Quotas: Using Information Technology to Cap National Carbon Emissions,”European Environment 7 (1997): 139–48; David Fleming, Energy and the Common Purpose: Descending the Energy Staircase with Tradable Energy Quotas (TEQs), 3rd ed. (London: The Lean Economy Connection, 2007), http://www.teqs.net/book/teqs.pdf (accessed September 24, 2008).
Richard Starkey and Kevin Anderson, “Domestic Tradable Quotas: A Policy Instrument for Reducing Greenhouse-Gas Emissions from Energy Use,” Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research: Technical Report 39 (2005), http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/research/theme2/final_reports/t3_22.pdf (accessed September 24, 2008).
Mayer Hillman and Tina Fawcett, How We Can Save the Planet (London: Penguin, 2004); George Monbiot, Heat: How We Can Stop the Planet Burning (London: Penguin, 2007).
On the UK government position, for example, see Tina Fawcett, Catherine Bottrill, Brenda Boardman, and Geoff Lye, Trialling Personal Carbon Allowances, UKERC Research Report (2007), http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/research/energy/downloads/fawcett-pca07.pdf; and http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/climatechange/uk/individual/carbontrading/index.htm (both accessed September 24, 2008).
Survey conducted by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)—see IPPR press release, “IPPR Says Public More Receptive to Personal Carbon Trading than Policy Makers Believe,” 16 July 2008, http://www.ippr.org.uk/pressreleases/?id=3208 (accessed September 24, 2008).
http://www.rsacarbonlimited.org/ (accessed September 25, 2008).
See Raymond J. Kopp, “CO2 Emissions—Taxes or Permits? Raymond J. Kopp asks whether U.S. Climate Policy Should Be Based on Taxes or Permits,”Oxford Energy Forum 38 (August 1999): 14–16
For example, Roberts and Thumim, A Rough Guide, 8.
In the UK, for example, household energy and personal transport accounts for fifty percent of national greenhouse gas emissions, or forty percent without aviation and public transport.
Steve Vanderheiden, Atmospheric Justice: A Political Theory of Climate Change (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008): 222–23. Vanderheiden's point is directed at the international context, but it applies also to the domestic context.
See Martha C. Nussbaum, Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000).
Michael Sandel, ed., “Should We Buy the Right to Pollute?” chap. 14 in Public Philosophy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press), 93–96, at 94. Goodin makes similar arguments in Robert E. Goodin, “Selling Environmental Indulgences,” chap. 17 in Debating the Earth: The Environmental Politics Reader, Second Edition, ed. John S. Dryzek (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 239–56, although his arguments are levelled not only at a trade in emission permits, but at any system that legitimizes emissions for a price, including taxes and non-tradable permits.
A stronger argument for prohibiting a trade in PCAs can be made if, instead of treating agents as being under a collective responsibility to reduce aggregate emissions, one instead argues that everyone is under an individual duty to reduce their own emissions in order to avoid harming potential victims of climate change, regardless of what other agents are doing. Such a position provides a stronger grounding for a prohibition on trading PCAs, but it does so at the considerable cost of demanding unrealistically high reductions in individuals' greenhouse gas emissions. As Vanderheiden (Atmospheric Justice, 162) argues, since any emissions generate increases, however small, in the likelihood that potential victims of climate change will be harmed, “the upshot is a ban on nearly all human activity, including the exhaling of CO2, insofar as such acts release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.” (I suspect that a case could be made for exempting at least those activities necessary to sustain life, but it is nevertheless true that the implications of prohibiting all non-life-sustaining greenhouse gas emissions would still be immense.) Whatever the moral merits of this position, which depend on involved issues about responsibility for aggregate harms, they are beyond the scope of the present discussion. In considering how to distribute PCAs—or for that matter how to distribute industrial permits or set environmental taxes—we are already committed to treating the problem as one of sharing out the burden of discharging a collective responsibility rather than enforcing individual duties to the potential victims of climate change. Whether the decision to treat the problem this way is based on moral reasons or policy reasons, it entails rejection of the individual-duty case against trading PCAs. Note, however, that for policy reasons one might treat the problem in terms of distributing a collective responsibility while still maintaining that the problem ought, morally, to be analyzed in terms of individual duties drastically to reduce one's own personal emissions. As Goodin (“Selling Environmental Indulgences,” 252) writes, “Environmentalists ought to be realists. They ought not go tilting at windmills; they ought not let the best be the enemy of the good; they ought get what they can, here and now, rather than holding out in all-or-nothing fashion when doing so only guarantees that nothing will be achieved.”
Henry Shue, “Subsistence Emissions and Luxury Emissions,”Law and Policy 15 (1993): 39–59; see also Henry Shue, “Climate,” in A Companion to Environmental Philosophy, ed. Dale Jamieson (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2001), 449–59. Shue allows that additional emission rights beyond those required for subsistence could be made available for trading. For additional arguments against Shue's position, see Stephen Gardiner, “Ethics and Global Climate Change,”Ethics 114 (2004): 555–600, at 585–86.
Shue, “Climate,” 455.
See, for example, publications cited above by Anderson, Bottrill, Fleming, Fawcett, Hillman, Monbiot, and Starkey.
For example, Tim Gibbs and Simon Retallack, Trading Up: Reforming the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme (London: IPPR, 2006), http://www.ippr.org.uk/publicationsandreports/publication.asp?id=513 (accessed September 25, 2008).
For an overview of these efforts, see Keith Hyams, “Political Authority and Obligation,” chap. 1 in Issues in Political Theory, ed. Catriona McKinnon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 9–32.
Peter Barnes, Who Owns the Sky? (Washington, DC: Island Press, 2001), 53–54, offers three answers to the question “why should individuals be treated as the primary recipients of atmospheric rights?”, all of which seem to me to be grounded in the fundamental liberal commitment to moral individualism. Also relevant is Pogge's more practical point that by allowing governments to control resources on behalf of their populations—what Pogge calls the resource privilege—we create incentives for political instability and corruption in developing countries. Thomas Pogge, World Poverty and Human Rights: Cosmopolitan Responsibilities and Reforms, Second Edition (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2008), 119–20.
Lukas H. Meyer and Dominic Roser, “Distributive Justice and Climate Change: The Allocation of Emission Rights,”Analyse and Kritik 28 (2006): 223–49.
Henry Shue, “The Unavoidability of Justice,” in The International Politics of the Environment, ed. Andrew Hurrell and Benedict Kingsbury (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 373–97, at 397. Quoted by: Michael Grubb, “Seeking Fair Weather: Ethics and the International Debate on Climate Change,”International Affairs 71 (1995): 463–96, at 478; Matthew Paterson, “International Justice and Global Warming,” in The Ethical Dimensions of Global Change, ed. Barry Holden (Basingstoke: Macmillan Press, 1996), 181–201, at 183; E. Wesley and F. Peterson, “The Ethics of Burden-Sharing in the Global Greenhouse,”Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 11 (1999): 167–96, at 187; Stephen M. Gardiner, “Ethics and Global Climate Change,”Ethics 114 (2004): 555–600, at 578.
For example, Anil Agarwal and Sunita Narain, Global Warming in an Unequal World: A Case of Environmental Colonialism (New Delhi: Centre for Science and Environment, 1991); Dale Jamieson, “The Epistemology of Climate Change: Some Morals for Managers,”Society and Natural Resources 4 (1991): 319–29; Michael Grubb, Jame Sebenius, Antonia Magalhaes, and Susan Subak, “Sharing the Burden,” in Confronting Climate Change: Risks, Implications, and Responses, ed. Irvin M. Mintzer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 305–22; Aubrey Meyer, Contraction and Convergence: The Global Solution to Climate Change, Schumacher Briefing No. 5 (Dartington: Green Books, 2000); Paul Baer, John Harte, Barbara Haya, Antonia V. Herzog, John Holdren, Nathan E. Hultman, Daniel M. Kammen, Richard B. Norgaard, and Leigh Raymond, “Equity and Greenhouse Gas Responsibility,”Science 289 (2000): 2287; Paul Baer, “Equity, Greenhouse-Gas Emissions,” 393–408; Tom Athanasiou and Paul Baer, Dead Heat: Global Justice and Global Warming (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2002); Peter Singer, ed., “One Atmosphere,” chap. 2 in One World: The Ethics of Globalization (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002).
See Singer, “One Atmosphere,” 43–44; Baer, “Equity, Greenhouse-Gas Emissions,” 402.
Hillel Steiner, An Essay on Rights (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994).
Vanderheiden (Atmospheric Justice, 103–104) argues that there is a stronger case for an egalitarian distribution of atmospheric emission rights than there is for other resources, because the atmosphere transcends national boundaries and is not therefore subject to competing property claims from those states in whose territory other resources lie. This is not to say that the national property claims should always take precedence over other considerations, but only that a stronger argument—Vanderheiden looks at the argument from an international Rawlsian original position to a “resource redistribution principle” made by Charles R. Beitz, Political Theory and International Relations (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979)—must be given for redistributing resources between nations, than that required to justify an egalitarian allocation of a hitherto unowned supranational resource. This distinction seems to me difficult to maintain. It is not enough, to maintain the distinction, that nations claim ownership rights over natural resources in their territory. Rather, the distinction requires that these claims be morally justified. But if one endorses the view that unowned, supranational resources like the atmosphere should be distributed in an egalitarian fashion, then there is a prima facie case for rejecting as morally unjustified the claims made by nations over natural resources in their territory. All resources were once unowned and supranational (or at least, before nations existed, extranational), and as such should have been allocated in accordance with the same egalitarian distributive criteria that apply to the atmosphere. Since they were not, we ought to conclude that existing claims to national ownership of resources derive from unjust methods of appropriation, and are not therefore morally justified.
For example, Hillman and Fawcett, How We Can Save the Planet, 127; Starkey and Anderson, “Domestic Tradable Quotas,” 11–14; Tina Fawcett, “Making the Case for Personal Carbon Rations,”Proceedings of European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy Summer Study—What Works and Who Delivers? (2005): 1483–93, at 1491, http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/research/energy/downloads/fawcett-pct05.pdf (accessed September 27, 2008); Fleming, Energy and the Common Purpose, 31; Monbiot, Heat, 47–48. For a detailed breakdown of the distributional impacts of giving everyone an equal PCA allocation, see Joshua Thumim and Vicki White, Distributional Impacts of Personal Carbon Trading, Centre for Sustainable Energy report to Defra (2008), http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/climatechange/uk/individual/carbontrading/pdf/pct-distributional-impacts.pdf (accessed September 23, 2008).
Ronald Dworkin, Sovereign Virtue (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000), chaps. 1, 2, and 7; G. A. Cohen, “On the Currency of Egalitarian Justice,”Ethics 99 (1989): 906–44.
Vanderheiden (Atmospheric Justice, 226–27) endorses a similar position at the level of national emission allocations, which he calls a “modified equal shares approach.” Vanderheiden writes that “differences in circumstance that lie outside of an agent's control can form the basis for valid claims for unequal resources, and must do so insofar as these affect opportunities for welfare” (p. 227). There are two respects, however, in which the present position is more faithful to the wider luck-egalitarian theory of justice than the position endorsed by Vanderheiden. First, by applying luck-egalitarian criteria to the distribution of PCAs rather than national emission allocations, the present position recognizes that luck-egalitarian distributive criteria are intended, at the moral level, to describe what is owed to individual agents rather than to larger moral units such as nations. Second, the present position endorses only luck-egalitarian criteria for the distribution of PCAs, whereas Vanderheiden's modified equal shares approach also endorses need-based reasons for departing from equality: “the portion of available global emissions to be subject to egalitarian distribution ought to be luxury emissions, not total emissions” (p. 226). But luck-egalitarian and need-based distributive criteria do not combine comfortably in a unified moral theory, one being a historical distributive principle and the other a patterned distributive principle. Perhaps these two problems are linked: when luck-egalitarian criteria are applied to states rather than individuals, the conclusion that states that make bad decisions should be left to suffer seems unpalatable, precisely because states are not unitary agents in the way that individuals are. Rather, the citizens who will suffer most within states that make bad decisions are unlikely to be the same citizens who make the bad decisions. In order to protect these vulnerable citizens, it seems necessary to supplement luck-egalitarian criteria for the distribution of emission quotas between states with need-based criteria, even though the latter are unnecessary in the domestic context.
Can one say, for example, that “I need extra PCAs so that I can continue to fly to Barbados for my holidays. You might be content with the seaside resort up the road, but I can only achieve a similar level of welfare if I go to Barbados”? This raises the problem—usually couched in monetary terms but equally problematic for emission requirements—that Dworkin (Sovereign Virtue, 48) has dubbed expensive tastes. The answer depends, of course, on how one draws the distinction between choice and circumstance (Dworkin draws the distinction so that all expensive tastes fall on the choice side; Cohen in “On the Currency” and in G. A. Cohen, “Expensive Taste Rides Again,” in Dworkin and His Critics, ed. J. Burley (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004), 3–29, draws the distinction so that some expensive tastes fall on the choice side and some on the circumstance side). Only if it is really a matter of circumstance rather than choice (e.g., a choice to foster the taste for Barbados) that you need Barbados whereas I am content with the seaside resort up the road would you have any case for extra permits, and that seems unlikely on most plausible versions of the distinction. Furthermore, even if you do need your holiday in Barbados in order to achieve the same level of welfare that I can achieve in the local seaside resort, nothing in the luck-egalitarian interpretation of the normal-functioning approach automatically entitles either of us to our holiday, if the overall emissions cap cannot accommodate such peripheral opportunities for welfare. More likely to earn serious consideration, perhaps, are cases of so-called “love miles,” where an agent lives far from close members of his family and needs to fly to see them. Mayer Hillman (How We Can Save the Planet, 142–43) rejects any claim for additional permits for such agents, but the luck-egalitarian normal-functioning approach might be more sympathetic, provided that an agent's situation is the result of circumstance rather than choice, and that his welfare would suffer sufficiently if he doesn't see his family. The choice–circumstance distinction may throw up particularly thorny issues in such cases. For example, is it a matter of choice or circumstance that a naturally intelligent and ambitious Angolan pursues an academic career in the United States and needs to fly back to Angola to see her family? It was her choice to go to the United States, but it was a matter of circumstance that she was naturally intelligent and ambitious, and that the universities in the United States were better than those in Angola.