About Ethics and Climate

Ethics and Climate seeks to increase and deepen public reflection on the ethical implications of human-induced climate change among policymakers, the public, non-government organizations, and journalists.

The site analyzes issues that arise in public discussions of climate change policy making and identifies the ethical, equity, and justice issues entailed by these issues.

The site is written and edited by Donald A. Brown, Scholar in Residence and Professor, Widener University School of Law. Professor Brown has worked in government at the state, federal, and international level on climate change and taught the ethics, law, science, and politics of climate change for over 25 years. The site also regularly includes articles from scholars in environmental ethics, science, and law  on climate ethical issues facing climate policy makers.


Climate change must be understood essentially as a civilization challenging ethical and moral problem. It is an ethical problem because some people and nations more than others are responsible for causing this problem, the consequences to those who will be most harmed from climate change are potentially catastrophic, and those most vulnerable to climate change often can’t protect themselves from harsh climate impacts.  Their best hope is that those causing the problem will respond to their ethical duties to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to their fair share of safe global emissions.

The fact that climate change is an ethical problem has profound practical consequences for policy formation.  Yet the ethical implications of policy responses have usually been ignored in policy debates that have now spanned 30 years. Despite 20 years of international negotiations to come up with a global solution to climate change under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, nearly all nations have failed to adopt domestic policy responses consistent with their ethical and moral obligations.

This site examines the ethical dimensions of climate science, economics, politics, policy responses, trading, atmospheric greenhouse gas stabilization goals, as well as the obligations of nations, governments, businesses, organizations, and individuals to respond to climate change. The site also follows the positions taken by national governments in international climate change negotiations and subjects their negotiating positions to an ethical critique. The site also examines arguments made by proponents and opponents of domestic climate change policies through an ethical lens.

Help with finding entries on this site including an INDEX can be found under the “start here” tab on the home page

The site believes that turning up the volume on the ethical dimensions of climate change is key to moving the world to a just solution to climate change.

Comments on the site should be made to Donald A. Brown, Visiting Scholar for Sustainability Ethics and Law, Widener University School of Law, by filling out the contact form. The site continues to benefit significantly from responsible comments on articles posted both in support of and in opposition to opinions expressed.  The site will seek to respond in a few days  to all comments that are substantive, that is are reasonable responses to issues actually raised, and not ad-hominem attacks nor violate minimum principles of  civil discourse.

Opinions expressed on Ethics and Climate are those of the author alone and should not be attributed to Widener University School of Law.