Session 3/4: Professor Henry Shue, Climate Ethics Series TT 2020

Actions and Detail Panel

Sales Ended

Event Information

Share this event

Date and Time



Online Event

Event description


Join us for the third session in this series with Professor Henry Shue on 'Are There Second Chances in Climate Change? Carbon Dioxide Removal and Intergenerational Risk Transfer'!

This University of Oxford, Faculty of Philosophy series brings together some of the world’s leading experts in climate ethicsJohn Broome, Megan Blomfield, Henry Shue and Simon Caney — to showcase the latest and cutting edge work in the area.

​This series is intended to spark interest in questions relating to philosophy and climate change and unite people across the university interested in issues of climate change and the role of philosophy in furthering climate research, action and discussion. The first 45mins-hour will consist of a lecture and then the floor will be open to questions and discussion. No prerequisites or prior knowledge required.

Location: Online. Details will be sent to you upon registration.

Convener: Alice Evatt. Please contact for any queries

Further Details: Click here; Faculty Website

Series Schedule:

Session 1: Professor John Broome (Oxford) — 'Self-interest against climate change', Wed May 20 (Week 4), 2-4pm. Click here to register.

​Session 2: Dr. Megan Blomfield (Sheffield) — ‘Responsibility for Climate Change in an Unjust World’, Wed June 3 (Week 6), 2-4pm. Click here to register.

Session 3: Professor Henry Shue (Oxford) — 'Are There Second Chances in Climate Change? Carbon Dioxide Removal and Intergenerational Risk Transfer', Wed June 17 (Week 8), 2-4pm

Session 4: Professor Simon Caney (Warwick) — 'Power, Political Responsibilities and Climate Change'
Wed June 24 (Week 9). Time TBA. Click here to register.

Professor Henry Shue — 'Are There Second Chances in Climate Change? Carbon Dioxide Removal and Intergenerational Risk Transfer'

Abstract: Almost all the policies toward climate change that are currently under consideration in order to enable the earth to reach 2100 with an increase in average global temperature of no more than 2° C depend to some extent on carbon dioxide removal [CDR], because it is already impossible today to restrict cumulative CO2 emissions to a quantity that will not force temperature to go higher at least temporarily, which scientists call an emissions ‘overshoot’. The complementary good news is that CO2 can be extracted from the atmosphere, as is done by trees and other plant life engaged in photosynthesis. Several technologies for anthropogenic CDR are now in some stage of development. Does this mean that what appear to be dates-of-last-opportunity for climate action are not in fact last chances to prevent climate change from leading to disastrous outcomes? That the answer is no is the thesis of this talk.

​I will highlight two of the reasons. First, CDR mobilized now to supplement ambitious emissions reductions now could be valuable, depending on whether it required too much land, water, or other scarce resources. But relaxed emissions reductions now, seemingly invited by hopes of CDR in later decades, would amount to coercive transfers of costs and risks from present generations to future generations. This is worse than an ordinary situation of ‘moral hazard’. Second, even reversible emissions ‘overshoots’ can force irreversible changes to the planet, such as sea-level rises from ice sheets driven past critical melting points that would continue for centuries after cumulative emissions were lowered by CDR. Dreams of CDR ought not to be allowed to motivate reductions of emissions at anything less than the most ambitious rate possible.

Photo credit: unsplash

Date and Time


Online Event

Save This Event

Event Saved