Climate Justice: The Ethics of Sharing the Cost of Climate Change Policy


Prof. Makoto Usami

University of Kyoto, Japan


Abstract: The last three decades have witnessed the burgeoning body of philosophical literature on moral issues surrounding climate change policy. A point of explication and discussion is the question of who should bear the cost of mitigation and adaptation, considering the fact that economically advanced societies have discharged excessive per-capita greenhouse gasses (GHGs) since industrialization. There are three primary principles: polluter pays principle (PPP), beneficiary pays principle (BPP), and ability to pay principle (APP). In this talk, it is noted that the PPP encounters philosophical challenges concerning the past GHG emissions, which the BPP and APP avoid. Next, the speaker discusses how these principles can be combined as to the past and current emissions. The talk concludes by suggesting the implication the combined principles may have upon the climate loss and damage that have occurred despite adaptation policies implemented.


Biography: Makoto Usami is Professor of Philosophy and Public Policy at Kyoto University, Vice-Dean of the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies, and Councilor of the university. Before joining the faculty, he has been Professor of Law and Philosophy at the Tokyo Institute of Technology (2008–2013), Professor of Jurisprudence at Chukyo University (2002–2004), and a visiting scholar at Harvard University (1997–1999). He has taught at several leading universities in Japan, including Doshisha University, Hokkaido University, Keio University, Nagoya University, Ritsumeikan University, University of Tokyo, and Waseda University. He also currently serves as a visiting professor at Kochi University of Technology.

Prof. Usami was educated at Nagoya University (M.A. in Law, the highest honor in law, 1991; B.A. in Law, the highest honor in law, 1989), and received his LL.D. degree from the same university in 1996. He was elected Vice President of Public Policy Studies Association, Japan (2010–2012) and has served as President of the International Association for Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy, Japan since 2018. He also holds membership in the Science Council of Japan, Council of the Japan Association of Legal Philosophy, Executive Council of Japan Law and Economics Association, and Council of PPSAJ, among others. Furthermore, he sits in the editorial or advisory boards of Current World Environment, Journal of Environmental Studies, Philosophy Study, and Philosophy and Poverty Series launched by Springer as well as several scholarly journals published in Japan.

The legal philosopher by training, Prof. Usami is the author of four books and more than seventy journal articles and book chapters written in English or Japanese. He also coauthors two textbooks and edits six anthologies and one special issue of international journal. He has published extensively on distributive justice, climate justice, global justice, intergenerational justice, and transitional justice in recent years. Among his recent publications in Japanese are Climate Breakdown (2021), Artificial Intelligence, Law, and Society (editor, 2020), Justice: Basics and Frontiers (coauthor, 2019), Climate Justice (editor, 2019), Philosophy of Law (coauthor, 2014), Global Justice (editor, 2014), Frontiers of the History of Legal Thoughts (co-editor, 2013), Justice, Liberty, and Equality: Selected Lectures (2011), and Ronald Dworkin (co-editor, 2011).

Prof. Usami has made presentations at numerous international conferences, symposia, and workshops including the meetings of International Association for Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy, International Political Science Association, International Public Policy Association, European Society for Analytic Philosophy, Societas Ethica: European Society for Research in Ethics, Association for Social and Political Philosophy in the UK, and Australian Political Studies Association. In 2016 and 2018, he delivered lectures on justice for judges at the Legal Training and Research Institute of Japan. In 2019, he gave a keynote talk at the 2nd World Congress on Climate Change held in Berlin. He is currently working on a three-volume collection of papers on global justice, intergenerational justice, and transitional justice and on a book discussing public policy in the perspectives of political philosophy and policy analysis.

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