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Unique project on climate ethics and future generations

23 October 2017 The Institute for Futures Studies

What should we do about climate change? This issue is at the heart of the six-year research project "Climate and future generations" at the Institute for Futures Studies in Stockholm, which will gather world-leading scientists in philosophy, political science and economics. One important aim of the project is to produce results useful for policy-makers.

Correct decisions about climate change require not only evidence in the form of scientific facts but also an understanding of the values ​​at stake – not just for us but for future generations. Should we, for example, aim for a larger or smaller population? How much ecological space and other natural resources should we save for people who will live long after we die?

Most contemporary theories about value and distributive justice do not take into account future generations and therefore do not offer guidance for important decisions regarding climate change.

“An important goal of this project is to achieve results that are useful to politicians and other decision makers, both in Sweden and internationally,” says Gustaf Arrhenius, director of the Institute for Futures Studies and head of the project.

The project is unique in the sense that it will gather world-leading philosophers and social scientists who have previously worked separately, in order to explore the values ​​and principles that should govern relationships between generations. Researchers in Philosophy, Political Science, Economics, Demography and Sociology will be coming together for the first time.

“This project will make Stockholm and the Institute for Future Studies a world leader in climate research,” says Gustaf Arrhenius.

Important theoretical and practical problems in population ethics, justice theory and climate science will be addressed. The program will also investigate the circumstances in which people care about future generations and climate change and when they are prepared to make sacrifices for future people, which is relevant for implementing the principles.

The project is expected to last for six years and includes a core group of 26 researchers currently spread across Europe, the United States and Australia. The grant of 4,257,000 euro comes from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond.

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