The adverse effects of climate change are upon us and have been for some time. While we should continue to mitigate them through means of carbon dioxide emission reduction, we need to begin to think about the implementation of adaptation measures. Many of the ways we live today are not sustainable with the future that is upon us. Countries around the world are being disproportionately impacted by severe weather events and water shortages; some will require more assistance than others with how to proceed with their mitigation and adaptation plans, whether that be in the form of financial resources or help implementing policies. The purpose of this project is to explore how we as a global community should allocate financial responsibility for climate change mitigation and adaptation.
In this thesis I explore three possible allocation schemes, each embodying a different principle of distributive justice. They include the utilitarian, egalitarian, and Rawlsian theories. Each is described by how they pertain to a policy recommendation for the global community to implement. I conducted a survey that tracked what scheme respondents selected when they were presented with general scenario questions and then with questions related to climate change. Each answer is mapped to a principle of distributive justice, in order to study the patterns people have in the way they think. The same survey was distributed to two groups, the Union community and workers on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. For the Union community I found no significant patterns, and for the Mechanical Turk group there were significant patterns. The greatest relationship was that of the egalitarian general questions and the egalitarian climate change questions. From this information I make the recommendation to choose a more egalitarian policy for climate change mitigation and adaptation.