Climate change is one of the most challenging issues facing the world in the 21st century. It is affecting our ways of living and the world’s biological diversity - entailing not only social and economic changes, but also raising serious ethical issues. The main ethical issue might be how to define and differentiate responsibilities between present and future generations, developed and developing countries, and human and nonhuman beings.
Despite much academic research and international discussion, due to the complexity and uncertainty surrounding climate change, its ethical dimension has not yet been clearly articulated.
With these issues in mind, the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) is opening its report entitled “Background for a Framework of Ethical Principles and Responsibilities for Climate Change Policies” for public comments. The report will be finalized at the 8th Ordinary Session of COMEST, which will take place from 27 to 29 May 2013, in Bratislava, Slovakia.
As an advisory body of independent experts for UNESCO, COMEST has been conducting analytical work on ethical issues related to climate change, to provide UNESCO Member States with relevant knowledge and recommendations and to support national policies on the basis of ethical principles.
The report, which COMEST is calling for public comments, reviews ethical principles in relation to climate change and proposes specific responsibilities that help indicate the concrete tasks that need to be carried out if the principles are to be satisfied, integrating the outcomes of the work already carried out by COMEST in recent years and in particular “A Framework of Ethical Principles and Responsibilities for Climate Change Adaptation” which was adopted by COMEST at its 7th Ordinary Session in 2011. The work of COMEST also includes a report in 2010 entitled “The Ethical Implications of Global Climate Change”.