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Climate Change and the Structure of Intergenerational Justice
How quickly should the world reduce its greenhouse gas emissions? On the one hand, unless dramatic emissions reductions are put in place quickly, then many people in the future are likely to suffer climate-change induced catastrophes, including deaths from extreme weather, drought, famine, disease, and widespread human conflict. On the other hand, if the present generation affects drastic emissions reductions quickly, then many people whose survival depends on continued rapid economic growth will suffer gravely in the short-run. So, how quickly should the world reduce its greenhouse gas emissions? And what is the right approach to thinking about this question? In this paper, I will explain why I think the dominant utilitarian approach to this question will have to be rejected, and will outline the nonconsequentialist structure of what I have come to think is the correct one.