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Environmental Ethics

Environmental ethics has been described as having a conscience or moral that reflects a commitment and responsibility toward the environment as well as present and future generations of people. The current focus on counteracting the adverse effects of climate change suggests that society has recognised both the importance of its role in, and the need for, sustainable environmental management for the benefit and use of current and future generations.

For this reason, the Irish Council for Bioethics organised a conference, on 9th October 2007, with a view to raising awareness of the ethics associated with environmental issues such as climate change, sustainable energy, waste management, nanotechnology and biotechnology.

The Council invited a multidisciplinary group of distinguished international speakers to address the following questions:

  • Who should be responsible for combating climate change, individuals or governments?
  • What are the rights and responsibilities of developed and developing countries when combating climate change?
  • Is it acceptable for Ireland to export large amounts of recyclable waste to other countries?
  • What is the benefit-to-risk ratio of using nanotechnology to reduce environmental pollution?
  • What are the main socio-economic, environmental and health impacts of climate change in Ireland?
  • Should commercial organisations be allowed to patent natural resources?

Conference Proceedings

The Council has published the proceedings of the conference
Environmental Ethics: Global Solidarity in a Sustainable Future
Click here to download the proceedings

If you would like to receive the proceedings in hardcopy, please e-mail your postal address to Paul Ivory at p.ivory'at' (replace 'at' with @) with 'environmental ethics conference proceedings' in the subject line.

Video and powerpoint presentations from the conference are available here.

Conference Programme

ETHICS AND THE ENVIRONMENT: Exploring the Ethical Issues

Climate Change - What does it mean for Ireland?
Dr. Rowan Fealy - Senior Researcher, Irish Climate Analysis and Research Units (ICARUS); Lecturer, Department of Geography, NUI Maynooth.

Global Climate Change - The Ethical Dilemma
Prof. Donald A. Brown - Associate Professor, Environmental Ethics, Science, and Law, Penn State University; Director of the Pennsylvania Consortium for Interdisciplinary Environmental Policy.

Sustainable Energy: The Ethical Aspects
Dr. Brian Motherway - Head of Industry, Sustainable Energy Ireland.

Ethical Approaches to Waste Management
Mr. Brian Meaney - Senior Scientific Officer, Office of Licensing and Guidance, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ireland.

Biodiversity and bioprospecting:
Balancing conservation, access, innovation and benefit sharing
Dr. Kristin Rosendal - Senior Research Fellow, Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Lysaker, Norway.

Nanotechnology - Environmental Friend or Foe?
Professor Wiebe E. Bijker - Professor of Technology and Society, Department of Technology & Society Studies, University of Maastricht, The Netherlands. 

Full programme available here...

Conference Presentations

"Climate Change - What does it mean for Ireland?"

Video and powerpoint presentation from

Dr. Rowan Fealy's presentation


Click here >


"Global Climate Change - The Ethical Dilemma"


Video and powerpoint presentation from

Prof. Donald Brown's presentation


Click here >


"Sustainable Energy: The Ethical Aspects"


Video and powerpoint presentation from

Dr. Brian Motherway's presentation


Click here >


"Ethical Approaches to Waste Management"


Video and powerpoint presentation from

Mr. Brian Meaney's presentation


Click here >


"Biodiversity and bioprospecting:

Balancing conservation, access, innovation and benefit sharing"


Video and powerpoint presentation from

Dr. Kristin Rosendal's presentation


Click here >



"Nanotechnology - Environmental Friend or Foe?"


Video and powerpoint presentation from

Professor Wiebe E. Bijker's presentation


Click here >