Ethical implications of co-benefits rationale within climate change mitigation strategy




Co-benefits, Climate Change, Capabilities Approach, Freedom, Well-being


Climate change mitigation effort is being translated into several actions and discourses that make collateral benefits and their rationale increasingly relevant for sustainability, in such a way that they are now a constant part of the political agenda. Taking a border and consensual perspective, co-benefits are considered here to be emerging advantages of the implementation of measures regarding the lowering of greenhouse gases.

Departing from the analysis of policy documents referring to two European urban transportation strategies, the emergent co-benefits are problematized and discussed to better understand their moral aspect. Further ethical reflection is conducted after an analysis of some unintended consequences of co-benefits rationale coming from the mentioned examples. The focus is primarily on the challenges of an integrative moral justification for co-benefits and also for their role in the climate change mitigation effort. We also discuss the limitations of the current normative models that frame co-benefits rationale, from a moral viewpoint and in relation to the overall climate change mitigation strategy.

In this article, we propose the concepts of well-being and freedom, as portrayed by Capabilities Approach, as possible guiding notions for the moral and social evaluation of goodness of these emergent benefits and their rationale too. Additionally, some preliminary conclusions are drawn regarding the potential of the presented concepts to favour the climate change mitigation action. Finally, a scenario is drawn where Capabilities Approach is the moral guideline for co-benefits rationale showing this way its potential in terms of enhancing climate change mitigation strategy.


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Author Biographies

Rita Vasconcellos Oliveira, NTNU

Rita Vasconcellos Oliveira

Ph.D. fellow in Applied Ethics, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Programme for Applied Ethics, NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Ph.D. in Educational Sciences, Master in Natural Sciences and Microbiology and Genetics

Research areas: Climate Change and Sustainability Ethics, Justice in sustainability contexts

May Thorseth

May Thorseth

Ph.D. in Philosophy, Professor of Philosophy at Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Director of NTNU's Programme for Applied Ethics, member of the management group of NTNU Sustainability. Vice-chairman of NTNU's Research ethical committee.

Research areas: Ethics and political philosophy; applied ethics/research ethics; environmental ethics; information-and communication ethics; multicultural conflicts; deliberative democracy/fundamentalism




How to Cite

Vasconcellos Oliveira, R., & Thorseth, M. (2016). Ethical implications of co-benefits rationale within climate change mitigation strategy. Etikk I Praksis - Nordic Journal of Applied Ethics, 10(2), 141-170.



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