Definition (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
The principle of intergenerational equity is strongly embedded in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. Historically, it owes its recognition to the Brundtland Report, Our Common Future (1987), which popularized the principle of “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The Declaration of Rio on Environment and Development (1992) adds a rights-based perspective to the principle, suggesting that “the right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet development and environmental needs of present and future generations.”
(The entire section is 92 words.)
Significance for Climate Change (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
The moral concerns over intergenerational equity have strong implications for climate-change-related policy making. The concept of intergenerational equity acknowledges the obligations of present generations in protecting the opportunities of future generations as well as the rights of future generations in enjoying the same level of opportunities and stocks of assets. This concept raises questions about how the interests of current generations are weighed against those of future generations and about the costs of inaction. Economists use discounting factors to address climate change by attempting to weigh the costs and benefits of alternative policies to different generations. The Stern Review, a report released by the British government in 2006, uses a similar approach to calculate optimal policy response and to highlight the consequences of inaction for future damage.
The concept of intergenerational equity is not without problems. It is hard to know the precise magnitude and distribution of the effects of climate change because of scientific uncertainty, as well as limited current knowledge about the future aspirations of particular societies. For instance, it is not clear how evenly the impact of climate change would be distributed over successive future generations. There is potential conflict between intragenerational and intergenerational needs. If current needs have not been met, this creates a...
(The entire section is 295 words.)