UNSW School of Photovoltaic & Renewable Energy Engineering
Constraining supply: the moral case for limiting fossil fuel exports
Jeremy Moss - University of New South Wales Sydney

Jeremy Moss, at UNSW SPREE, 26 July 2018

Jeremy Moss (48Min)

University of New South Wales Sydney

Jeremy Moss speaks at UNSW SPREE


Advocates of increased action on climate change often demand that we focus principally on constraining the use of fossil fuels through demand side measures such as consumption taxes. Such measures are undoubtedly needed. But attention also needs to be given to whether so called ‘supply side’ constraints ought to play a prominent role in our mitigation efforts. Supply side constraints limit the production of fossil fuels at the source through such measures as ‘mine gate’ taxes or caps on production. Yet, even within approaches that favour supply side measures, there has not been enough attention to how we count and attribute responsibility for the increased risk of harm from the emission of fossil fuel exports.

The talk will discuss the moral arguments for limiting fossil fuel exports and argue that it is unjust for most countries that currently export fossil fuels to continue to do so based on the harm that they knowingly risk causing. In the second part of the talk I will discuss what follows from this argument for exporters. For example, if this kind of argument is true, then exporting countries face a range of responses that they could be obligated to perform including: phasing out exports, limiting new developments and exploration, compensating for harm, including a portion of the emissions of their exports in their domestic carbon budget or adopting faster domestic transitions. The paper will evaluate which of these responses exporters have an obligation to perform. The talk will also discuss some of the other consequences of this approach, such as whether and to what degree there are different constraints on developing countries that export fossil fuels, the likelihood of ‘negative’ carbon budgets for big fossil fuel exporters and the consequences for their climate transitions.

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Brief Bio

Professor Moss’s main research interests are in political philosophy and applied philosophy. Current research interests include projects on: climate justice, the ethics of renewable energy as well as the ethical issues associated with climate transitions. He is Co-Director of the Practical Justice Initiative and leads the Climate Justice Research program at UNSW as part of the Practical Justice Initiative (PJI).

Moss has published several books including: Reassessing Egalitarianism, Climate Change and Social Justice, and Climate Change and Justice (Cambridge University Press). He is the recipient of the Eureka Prize for Ethics, the Australasia Association of Philosophy Media Prize and several Australian Research Council Grants including most recently, Ethics, Responsibility and the Carbon Budget, with researchers from Adelaide, ANU and Oxford. He chaired the UNESCO working group on Climate Ethics and Energy Security, and has been a visitor at Oxford and McGill universities. Recent publications include: ‘The Morality of Divestment’, Law and Policy, July 2017; ‘Mining and Morality’, Australian Journal of Political Science, Vol 51 No 3, 2016; ‘Going It Alone: Cities and States for Climate Action’, Ethics, Policy and Environment’, 12/2/18.