Climate Ethics

The Project

This research stream brings together scholars from multiple disciplines to discuss ethical questions, problems and solutions relating to the climate crisis. Our main research interests include:

Philosophy of Climate Science

We are currently setting up a philosophy of climate science research group within CEPPA’s Climate Ethics stream. Topics of future research may include:

  • Explanation, Prediction, and Understanding in Climate Research
  • Certainty and uncertainty in climate modelling
  • The New Demarcation Problem in (the philosophy of) Climate Science: The role of social and moral values for objectivity in climate science. 

Climate Justice and Climate Finance

  • How can the disparity between global climate impact and uneven responsibilities be squared with the ideal of climate justice?
  • How are climate policies and priorities inflected by questions of distance (space and time)?
  • How should institutions and policies reflect global and intergenerational justice?
  • If positive interest rates block green transitions, should we fix the interest rate at zero?
  • How should climate finance reflect the interests and rights of developing countries?

Climate Affects and Conceptual Loss

  • Do we have the right ethical concepts to face climate change?
  • What role can climate protest play in a warming world?
  • What’s the role of the imagination in a climate transition?
  • Which affects and emotions sustain activism; which undermine it?

Ethics of Climate Mitigation and Technologies / Climate Accounting

  • What are the ethical concerns around carbon mitigation pathways and their various associated timescales and costs?
  • How to navigate the ethical tensions regarding mitigation vs carbon dioxide removal vs geoengineering?
  • What are the normative foundations of greenhouse gas accounting practices?
  • How can we compare various kinds of environmental impacts (impacts on human health, biodiversity, and other things of value; climate change, ocean acidification, plastic pollution, etc.)?

Climate Change and Population Ethics

  • What duties do we have towards future people, and what considerations of justice hold between different generations? 
  • What are the individual responsibilities to be environmentally friendly, given that the emissions of most individuals will have no (clear) impact  on how bad climate change will be?
  • In what way, if at all, does the badness of climate change impacts the morality of having children? 
  • What are the implications of population ethics and the non-identity problem for climate ethics


  • Mara van der Lugt (University of St Andrews)
  • Elizabeth Ashford (University of St Andrews)
  • Alex Douglas (University of St Andrews)
  • Miguel de la Cal Moreno (University of St Andrews & University of Stirling)
  • Simon Hope (University of Stirling)
  • Quân Nguyen (University of Edinburgh)
  • James Rae (University of St Andrews)
  • Derek Ball (University of St Andrews)
  • Luca Stroppa (University of St Andrews & University of Turin)
  • Theron Pummer (University of St Andrews)


Ongoing events

  • Monthly interdisciplinary Climate Ethics research seminar, on Thursdays 4-5.30pm.
  • Reading groups.

Previous events


To subscribe to the Climate Ethics mailing list: please email [email protected]