Who Should Represent Future Generations in Climate Planning?

Paper by Morten Fibieger Byskov and Keith Hyams: “Extreme impacts from climate change are already being felt around the world. The policy choices that we make now will affect not only how high global temperatures rise but also how well-equipped future economies and infrastructures are to cope with these changes. The interests of future generations must therefore be central to climate policy and practice. This raises the questions: Who should represent the interests of future generations with respect to climate change? And according to which criteria should we judge whether a particular candidate would make an appropriate representative for future generations? In this essay, we argue that potential representatives of future generations should satisfy what we call a “hypothetical acceptance criterion,” which requires that the representative could reasonably be expected to be accepted by future generations. This overarching criterion in turn gives rise to two derivative criteria. These are, first, the representative’s epistemic and experiential similarity to future generations, and second, his or her motivation to act on behalf of future generations. We conclude that communities already adversely affected by climate change best satisfy these criteria and are therefore able to command the hypothetical acceptance of future generations…(More)”.