Gasper, Poverty and Climate Change

Assessing & Responding to Climate Change:
Ignoring the Poor?

Des Gasper, Institute of Social Studies,
Erasmus University, The Hague


How far are humanistic principles — principles of judging in terms of all the valued impacts on all people – actually important in assessments of climate change? The paper identifies mechanisms by which interests of vulnerable low-income people are often marginalized, even when assessments are made by agencies supposedly accountable within the United Nations system with its commitments to universal human rights and human security. A major case considered is the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report of 2014. A second example taken is the debate on impacts on human health from climate change. It illustrates how the burden of proof in climate change politics has been placed on the side of those who warn of dangers, and how the precautionary principle often becomes configured in favour of not risking disturbance to the privileged. The paper sketches a typology of ways in which vulnerable poor people are marginalized or excluded in climate change analyses. It then discusses how that marginalization and exclusion might be countered. We look at the recent Papal encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, to raise the question whether attention to the excluded requires perceptual reorientations of sorts that are not yet found in all development discourse.


Friday, September 18

3:00 p.m.

River Building 1200


Sponsored by the Graduate Programs in Ethics and Public Affairs

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