Climate change, intergenerational justice, and the non-identity effect

Thomas D. Bontly


Do we owe it to future generations, as a requirement of justice, to take action to mitigate anthropogenic climate change? This paper examines the implications of Derek Parfit’s notorious non-identity problem for that question. An argument from Jörg Tremmel that the non-identity effect of climate policy is “insignificant” is examined and found wanting, and a contrastive, difference-making approach for comparing different choices’ non-identity effects is developed. Using the approach, it is argued that the non-identity effect of a given policy response to climate change depends on the contrasting policy. Compared to a baseline scenario without further mitigation, the non-identity effect of choosing to limit climate change to 1.5°C would be highly significant.


Climate change; Non-identity problem; Intergenerational justice

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2019 Thomas D. Bontly

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Tübingen Open Journals – Privacy Protection