Open Conference Systems, RUC Sunrise Triple C Conference: Climate – Change – Communication

Font Size: 
The status of future generations in discussions and decisions regarding climate change
Erik Persson

Last modified: 2010-04-16


Statement of Purpose: Investigating the status of future generations in discussions and decisions regarding climate change.


Paper description: A complicating factor in decisions that affect the climate is the distance between cause and effect. The distance can be spatial, temporal, biological, cultural, economic, etc. These distances in turn have bearing on the climate discussion in the form of both motivation and power. We are often less motivated to consider more distant effects. There is also an asymmetry when it comes to power. Those who contribute more to the problem then they are suffering from it is in a more favorable position in negotiations than those who suffer more from the problem than they contribute to it.


Temporal distance ranging over generations is an extreme case of this. Many of those who will be affected by the changing climate are not born when the decisions leading to the changes are made. This means they have no chance of defending their own interests. There are different suggestions regarding what this demands from us, and different strategies for handling this in practice.


Conclusions: References to future generations are quite common in discussions and agreements, but in general they are not very specific. Even though there is a strong consensus that future generations matter, here is no clear guideline on what this demands from us. We also lack a good strategy for how to consider future generations in climate negotiations. This is an area that is in large need of further research.

Conference registration is required in order to view papers.