Climate obligations and social norms

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Many governments are failing to act sufficiently strongly on climate change. Given this, what should motivated affluent individuals in high-consumption societies do? This paper argues that social norms are a particularly valuable target for individual climate action. Within norm-promotion, the paper makes the case for a focus on anti-fossil fuel norms specifically. Section 1 outlines gaps in the existing literature on individuals’ climate change obligations. Section 2 characterises social norms. Section 3 provides seven reasons why social norms are a particularly worthy target for individual climate actors. Section 4 asks which social norms individuals should emphasise, arguing that anti-fossil fuel norms have advantages over emissions reduction and offsetting norms. Section 5 outlines the pathways and mechanisms individuals might exploit to promote anti-fossil fuel norms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-125
Number of pages23
JournalPolitics, Philosophy and Economics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


  • anti-fossil fuel norms
  • change change
  • emissions reduction
  • individual obligations
  • offsetting
  • social norms

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