Moral language in climate politics

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Climate change raises urgent concerns of justice, yet in political debate its status as a matter of justice or morality remains contested. This chapter explores the potential and limitations of moral language for analysing the problem of climate change, and motivating others to take action on climate change. A case study of global climate politics compares the political functions of two forms of moral language (those of justice and equity) and the language of risk. Moral language could serve an important analytical function in negotiations by providing overarching reasons for coordinated action and informing critical questions about how to apportion collective efforts. But some variants of moral language could exacerbate rather than bridge international divides. Moral language may exert greater influence through: combining it with other forms of language, notably appeals to shared risk and other common interests; and improving social and institutional preconditions for its efficacy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationClimate Justice in a Non-Ideal World
EditorsClare Heyward, Dominic Roser
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9780198744047
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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