Ethics in the IPCC process

Crawford School of Public Policy | Centre for Climate Economics and Policy

Event details


Date & time

Tuesday 28 April 2015


Brindabella Theatre, Level 2, JG Crawford Building 132, Lennox Crossing, ANU


Professor John Broome, Emeritus White's Professor of Moral Philosophy at University of Oxford, Adjunct Professor at ANU and IPCC author.


Yanhong Ouyang

Presentation slides and audio.

The Fifth Assessment Report is the first of the IPCC’s reports that has explicitly given a place to ethics. Two philosophers were included as Lead Authors for this purpose. However, an IPCC report is designed to be a review of scientific literature, and the process of writing it is organised with that aim in mind. Philosophy does not fit easily into that framework. Moreover, IPCC reports are commissioned by governments and must ultimately be approved by governments. Each sentence in the summaries for policymakers has to be explicitly approved by a consensus among all governments. This poses further difficulties for ethics in the IPCC, since ethics tends to be politically contentious.

Professor John Broome will describe how the process went from the point of view of a moral philosopher, and assess how successful the IPCC has been in its aim of taking account of the importance of ethics in responding to climate change.

John Broome is Emeritus White’s Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Oxford, and an Adjunct Professor at ANU. He was once Professor of Economics at the University of Bristol. For the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, he was a Lead Author in Working Group 3 and a member of the Core Writing Team of the Synthesis Report.

This event is presented by the Centre for Climate Economics and Policy, Crawford School of Public Policy, at The Australian National University.

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