The joint schools’ PolSoc were delighted to welcome Nicola Mulkeen, a professor of political philosophy at the university of Warwick, to give a talk to students across both Habs Girls and Habs Boys. Nicola gave the very topical talk on the subject of climate change, and more specifically who should bear the burdens associated with financing action to reduce the harmful effects of climate change.

She presented three main solutions to this: ability to pay, polluters pay and a hybrid view. The polluter pays principle is one which holds those agents to have created harmful climate change responsible for its full cost of abatement. The ability to pay idea states that costs of mitigation and adaptation should be met by the wealthy, in proportion to their wealth. Finally, the hybrid view was one of combining the two ideas to try and create a compromise. Nikola then shared with PolSoc the limitations of each of these solutions, which ranged from the fact that some climate change is attributable to persons who are no longer alive, which means one would struggle to make them pay; and that the wealthy don’t necessarily have a responsibility to pay if they did not contribute. This led to a fascinating discussion with Nicola as to which one we believed was the best option.

To finish off the talk, PolSoc debated the controversial question of whether the ultra-rich should be forced to give a higher proportion of their money away to help solve climate issues, and more specifically fund green technology in developing countries to help them lower their emission rates as they try to develop. It proved be to a really interesting and relevant talk.