Childish Emissions: How the emissions costs of procreation should be allocated within ideal and non-ideal conditions
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In this paper I examine how the moral status of procreation ought to function in comparable ideal and non-ideal conditions. These conditions have been employed to capture the significance of the role climate change plays as a contextual ethical backdrop. Discussions on climate change too often omit any strategies aimed at effectively addressing the emissions caused by the rapid global population growth we are currently experiencing. My aim is thus to propose a morally legitimate framework from which population-centred climate policies can be derived for the sake of reducing our environmental impact. I do this by establishing procreation as a limited moral right that produces a negative ‘greenhouse externality’. It is shown to be too morally problematic for this externality to be neglected, so I provide three necessary conditions from which it could be argued that the procreator themselves ought to bear the costs for compensating for this externality. This invokes an asymmetry between the two sets of conditions as a threshold is argued for in order to reconcile; a demand to promote wellbeing, with respecting the moral right to procreate, with the moral worth of reducing emissions for the sake of preventing climate-related harms. Such a threshold will illuminate the moral demand for those that voluntarily procreate, from a background of wellbeing and affluence, to compensate for the emissions costs of their procreative activity so long as there is the overarching duty to further reduce our environmental impact.