Beyond science and economics: conference to examine the ethical dimensions of climate change

August 21, 2006

Most of the discussion and debate about climate change centers on scientific scenarios, such as struggling eco-systems, violent storms and melting glaciers, or economic factors which range from the cost of alternative fuels to impact on gross domestic product. Largely missing, however, are explorations of the ethical implications of the actions or inactions of individuals and the world community as they consider solutions to a crisis of unparalleled proportions.

On Aug. 30 and 31, experts on many dimensions of climate change will gather at the Florida Hotel in Rio de Janeiro for one of the first international meetings to focus on those ethical implications. The Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change (EDCC) collaborative program at Penn State's Rock Ethics Institute is sponsoring the event in conjunction with the International Virtual Institute on Climate Change, the Brazilian Forum on Climate Change, and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro-The Energy Planning Program.

Several times throughout his movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," Al Gore asserts that climate change policy is a moral problem. But, how many and what types of moral and ethical issues does climate change policy-making raise, do policymakers have an understanding of these issues, and what practical difference would it make if ethical questions were integrated into the growing scientific and economic literature of climate change policy options?

According to organizers, EDCC was created in 2005 because: The upcoming Rio meeting of EDCC and its partners was convened specifically to gather the advice of climate change experts from developing countries as the group examines ethical issues that must be faced in developing climate change policy. Among other issues, this meeting will look at the ethical dimensions of the following climate change issues: EDDC is currently collaborating with 15 institutions around the world and seeks additional collaboration from other organizations and individuals. For more information on EDCC, go to

Penn State

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