Individual consumers and climate change: searching for a new moral compass

Produced as part of the Governments, markets and climate change mitigation CCCEP research programme theme

Working Paper 81


Individuals and households are responsible for about one third of all carbon emissions in the UK and the US, and yet, there has been limited policy attention to this sector.

This chapter proposes that voluntary engagement by individuals and households in carbon-reducing behaviours might be significantly enhanced if climate change is framed clearly, and unequivocally, as a moral issue.

However, climate change has a number of features that make it difficult to apprehend as a typical moral problem. This chapter examines each of these features, and discusses how they might be re-cast so that the climate change problem takes the form of a standard moral problem.

This chapter also serves as a rudimentary review of the ethics literature relevant to climate change.

Tanya O’Garra