Do parents have a special duty to mitigate climate change?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This paper argues that parents have a special, shared duty to organise for collective action on climate change mitigation and adaptation, but not for the reason one might assume.

The apparently obvious reason is that climate change threatens life, health, and community for the next generation, and parents have a special duty to their children to protect their basic human interests. This argument fails because many parents could protect their children from these central harms without taking more general action to combat climate change, let alone to mitigate it. Instead, subtler reasons are advanced, drawing on children’s relational interests or on their interests as moral agents.

It is argued that parents owe it to their children to combat climate change because of the indirect impact on current children of serious threats to their children and grandchildren, and the harm done to them by being required to live in a radically unjust world. It is further argued that parents may owe it directly to their more distant descendants to mitigate climate change, because of the role current parents played in bringing them into world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-325
JournalPolitics, Philosophy & Economics (PPE)
Issue number3
Early online date29 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • climate change
  • parental duties
  • special duties
  • collective action
  • shared duties


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