Essays in Philosophy


published on January 30, 2021

Kyle Fruh

Climate Change Driven Displacement and Justice: The Role of Reparations

An increasingly wide array of moral arguments has coalesced in recent work on the question of how to confront the phenomenon of climate change driven displacement. Despite invoking a range of disparate moral principles, arguments addressing displacement across international borders seem to converge on a similar range of policy remedies: expansion of the 1951 Refugee Convention to include ecological refugees, expedited immigration (whether individual or collective), or, for entire political communities that have suffered displacement, even the ceding of sovereign territory. Curiously, this convergence is observable even across the distinction of interest for this paper: the distinction between arguments that proceed in the vein of reparations and arguments that reach their conclusion without invoking any reparations. Even though as a collection they appear to point in the same direction, I argue that non-reparative arguments that seek to address climate change driven displacement have several shortcomings, such that climate justice should be understood to include an indispensable role for reparations.