One strategy for preserving a two-camp approach would be to concede that while ethics informs goals, implementation is the province of other disciplines. This is a retreat from the original rhetoric: ethics is no longer irrelevant or dangerous, but plays an exalted role in setting the agenda for “what works.”

Nevertheless, the “pure implementation” view remains prejudicial, since it tacitly assumes that implementation does not involve ethics. This is surely false. Just as you cannot build a good building if you do not know what it is for (e.g., housing or trash disposal), so there are ethical restrictions on how you go about building it, whatever it is for (e.g., prohibitions on stolen materials, slave labor). One plausible constraint in the climate case is that emissions reduction policies should not exacerbate injustice. Most obviously, extreme implementation methods—such as involuntary sterilization campaigns or depriving the very poor of subsistence emissions—should be off the table. A more interesting question is “what else?” In my view, policy professionals should consider such questions a vital component of their work, and therefore have significant training in recognizing ethical concerns. Without this, climate policy is in danger of violating intelligibility constraints. For example, it might advocate building small lifeboats (for the privileged) when it should be pursuing an ark (for all).

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