Financial Times Reviews Eric Posner and David Weisbach's New Book

Climate Change Justice
Crispin Tickell
Financial Times
April 12, 2010

Climate Change Justice
By Eric A Posner and David Weisbach
Princeton University Press £19.95, 240 pages
FT Bookshop price: £15.96

The stream of books on climate change continues, although the character of the public debate has changed. The combination of the e-mail scandal at the University of East Anglia, a few mistakes in the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the disappointing outcome of the Copenhagen Conference last December has created varying degrees of public scepticism.

But the problem will not go away. The science remains pretty robust. Sooner or later there will have to be some kind of global solution to a global problem.

Among the issues is that of the justice or equity underlying any future system to manage the effects of change. The good health of the atmosphere is vital to all forms of life, including our own. But we all have free access to it and can pollute it as we will. How should we value a public good? How should responsibilities, past, present and future, be allocated? This is the central theme of Eric Posner’s and David Weisbach’s new book, Climate Change Justice.

One reason for the relative failure of Copenhagen was the sheer scope and complexity of the issues. The impacts of climate change are themselves uncertain. There are tipping points when one climatic regime can slide, often quickly, into another. The trouble is that we do not know where they are until we have passed them. Then there are wider issues regarding our ability to respond to change: among them are human proliferation and migration; exhaustion and pollution of natural resources; and damage to essential ecosystems.

Faculty: 
Eric Posner