Discussion Topic: Ethics and Exports

Project description

In order to avoid dangerous climate change the world must drastically limit its emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). A recent report from the IPCC highlights the desirability of keeping global temperature rises to 1.5C

Achieving this goal requires that many states, including Australia, drastically cut their current level of domestic territorial emissions.

Yet, no matter how much Australia cuts its domestic emissions, the emissions produced from our exports are roughly twice the level of domestic emissions. This is a very large contribution to the world’s carbon budget. Yet, the emissions produced from exported fossil fuels are not counted as part of the exporting state’s carbon budget or as part of their liability.

Why ought this issue to concern us? Very simply it is because the production and export of fossil fuels is a key part of the causal chain that leads to emissions. The policies, subsidies and investments that make this activity possible ought also to make Australia responsible for at least some of the consequences of these exported emissions.

This project seeks to understand some of the moral issues raised by the production and export of fossil fuels from Australia. Given the huge role that Australian exports play in national life and their contribution to climate change, we should expect that the topic raises large questions such as: Should we be responsible for emissions in the distant past (historical emissions); why should we take responsibility for exports? (the morality of exports); ought exported emissions have an impact on Australia’s carbon budget? (exports and the carbon budget); why is justice relevant to this issue? (just transitions, social justice and climate change); and, why should an individual reduce their carbon footprint? (duties of individuals);

These are not the only issues that are important by any means. Yet understanding Australia’s and other countries responsibility for exported emissions is a key component of determining what we as a country ought to be held responsible for and how this should effect our climate transition.

The Export Tool, allows you to track where Australia’s fossil fuel exports go and how much GHG emissions they produce.

14 December 2020

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8 July 2020

New report: ‘Australia: an emissions super-power’

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