Weekend Roundup: World Leaders Embrace Ethics of the Future at Paris Summit

Whatever the final outcome, the United Nations climate summit convening in Paris is already a unique event in the history of the planet. Using the scientific tool of reasoned projection, the most self-aware and conscious species, Homo sapiens, has collectively peered into the times ahead and seen the ruinous impact on generations to come from burning ever more carbon to fuel our present industrialized desire. Motivated by an ethics of the future, top leaders from across the world have resolved to preempt further damage to the fragile ecology of Earth’s livable climate that has so far allowed human civilization to flourish. Whether that resolve is sufficient to meet the mounting challenge in a meaningful time frame is the existential question.

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd echoes Pope Francis and argues that Christian ethics call on believers to battle climate change. Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, Prince Charles and former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan all implore the leaders gathered in Paris to meet the ethical challenge and come up with a firm commitment to achieve zero-carbon emissions in the decades ahead. Top climate scientist James Hansen warns of the “Paris deceit” in which leaders will make promises they don’t believe in or commitments they can’t deliver politically. In an interview, India’s environment minister, Prakash Javadekar, urges the developed world, which has been emitting carbon into the atmosphere for over a century, to “vacate the carbon space” to make room for developing countries that need fossil fuels to modernize. Janos Pasztor, U.N. assistant secretary general on climate change, agrees in another interview that developed countries should carry the most burden, but that poorer countries must also find a way to balance national and —> Read More