Case Study for Assessment 3:
‘The Unburnable Ca
In recent years scientists, industry bodies, and environmental ethicists have come up with the concept of the ‘unburnable ca
on’. The idea at its most simple is:
· Pollution from burning ca
on in the form of fossil fuels such as coal releases pollution into the environment. This pollution causes a rise in global temperatures.
· A rise in global temperatures beyond a certain point will significantly reduce the quality of the environment needed for a minimum quality of life on Earth.
· This creates the concept of a ‘ca
on budget’. This is the total amount of ca
on that the planet Earth can take to be released from burning fossil fuels. Let us call that amount of ca
on ‘the ca
on budget’ without specifying exact numbers.
· Private companies, mostly multinational, cu
ently own the rights to mine and sell fossil fuels that, if burned, would produce ca
on far over this budget.
· These are resource reserves that multinational companies have already both the rights to mine and sell. Some are included in business plans released to shareholders already.
· This gives us the concept of the so-called ‘unburnable ca
on’ that is, fossil fuels that can’t be burned if we are to keep below this ca
on budget. In other words, it is able to be burnt, it is only ‘unburnable’ in the sense that we should not and cannot burn it IF we are to stay within the ca
on budget and therefore avoid the problematic rise in global temperatures.
· This also leads to a ‘ca
le’ – which is the idea that the stock of companies whose profits depend on fossil fuel extraction and sales is overvalued because the true cost of extracting and selling these reserves (including externalities) is not yet included in their stock valuation, and because they likely won’t be allowed by governments to extract and sell all of those reserves in coming decades.
Questions in response to the case study:
1. What would the normative ethical theories we have covered in this unit say about the key players in this situation and their potential actions? (20 marks)
2. Who are the stakeholders in this scenario and how would you classify their interest according to the salience (i.e. Mitchell et al.) model? (10 marks)
3. What other theories and concepts from the unit are most relevant here and how do they apply? (10 marks)
Advice to Students:
· You may wish to read more about the concepts from the case here: https:
· You are not expected to undertake research into the technical and scientific elements of the case, ca
on, or the law. The above conceptual summary is enough to engage with and designed to avoid needing to engage with these other elements. This will let you keep your work both conceptual and ethical.
· The report can take any report format you wish, and it will be up to your own judgment what you focus on, but you should do this in a way that gives yourself scope to address the assessment requirements and ru
ic criteria (including demonstrating your knowledge of the normative theories of ethics, and the relevant key issues and concepts covered in class).
· Students should use 12 point font, double spaced, with 2.5cm margins.
· You are welcome and indeed encouraged to use headings to indicate your responses to each question and sub-headings to organise your answers to each question.
· You do not need to cover every ethical issue discussed in class but your report should focus on the issues most relevant to this topic and make a case for why you believe these are the most relevant issues.
· This is not a research assignment. Engaging closely with the assigned class readings will be the best place to start for references for this assessment. ‘Engaging closely’ with the readings means reading them closely and using them in depth, for example quoting, explaining, and applying multiple, specific, key ideas from the relevant readings rather than just generally refe
ing to the overall idea of the readings once or twice.
· The assessment ru
ic against which this assessment will be marked is available in Blackboard.
· The following advice speaks to how to address specific elements of the marking ru
ic: o Subject Knowledge: make sure to cover all of the relevant theories, not just one. For example, if you think that one of the normative theories is the most co
ect or useful, it will be good to explain that and argue for why this is the case but remember the marking ru
ic also requires you to show understanding of all the main theories, not just the one you choose or prefer. You can do this by explaining why the other theories are not a good fit.
o Using the right references (this of course relates to the ‘QualityofSources’ section of the marking ru
ic). This is important – a strong paper will use and cite the key assigned readings from the unit. Rather than getting points for going beyond the reading list, in this unit it is much better to at least start with the assigned readings and show a good understanding of them. In other words, by all means use other quality references in addition to the assigned readings but don’t use them instead of the assigned readings.
o Use the reading list for this unit as a checklist–if you come to the end of writing your paper and notice your References list does not include the majority of the assigned readings in this unit then not only does this mean that you should address this to meet the ‘Quality of Sources’ aspect of the marking ru
ic, it is also a good sign you most likely have not demonstrated understanding and use of these theories (i.e. the ‘Subject Knowledge’ section of the ru
o QualityofArgument–remembertoalwaysbechecking(whenwritingyourargument) and also reminding the reader of the relevance of the points you make and how they relate to the assessment question and your overall response to it. This is a good check to make sure you are not off on a tangent and that you are directly addressing the assessment requirements. It’s also a very good way to demonstrate your understanding of the ideas.
A decent paper will mention and describe key ideas, a good paper will go further and show understanding of the ideas by explaining their relevance and significance to the argument. An excellent paper will show an understanding of complex and relevant connections between these ideas and using them to support a line of argument. In general, papers are stronger when they take time to explain key points and the connection between ideas in detail.
A good way to do this is to ask yourself at the end of each paragraph and after introducing each new idea or quote:
1. ‘Why?’ – why am I including this? How does it address the topic? What does it mean for my argument? How does it relate the most recent point I made?
2. ‘So what?’ What value does this add to my argument? Why should the reader care about this?
Here is an example that includes a central point as well as an account of why it matters and why it is being raised:
Leadership demands our attention for other reasons as well.
For one thing, leadership seems almost inevitable. That is, whatever our best considerations and investigations into what the nature of leadership is and what we should think about it ethically, we cannot choose not to have leaders—whether we prefer them to be democratic, consultative or even anarchistic. Even in emergent forms, the coordinating and directing influence that some persons have over others is unavoidable. Because leadership in various forms is ubiquitous (as a force and structure) across
the personal, social, political and economic aspects of our lives, it merits our better understanding.
There are ways you can be more explicit about this in your own papers. This includes using and answering questions, or using opening phrases, such as:
· “Why does this matter? Because ...”
· “For the purposes of my argument, this is relevant because ...”
· “In the context of this discussion, what is important about this idea is ...”
· “This is a direct support / contradiction / problem for / confirmation of / ...”
In general, what this does is demonstrate that you understand the relationship between ideas – what gives us good reason to believe something and what counts as good supporting evidence for your views and argument.
ic,makesureyou reference thoroughly and accurately and observe all required academic standards. Common e
ors here that keep students from achieving full marks for this element of the ru
· Not including page numbers in all in-text references
· Not indicating that something is a direct quote by using quotation marks
· Attributing / citing views to references wrongly (i.e. the author does not say
what the students says they say)
· Not recognising and citing that an author is actually citing another author,
and thus attributing the view to the wrong author
1. Papers should have at least 10 references and the vast majority of these (around 80% at least) should be from the assigned readings.
2. All in-text references must include page numbers (as per the unit outline and in-class instructions) and all items in your end of paper References list must include a DOI where one is available.
3. Your main sources for references should be the assigned readings.
4. Beyond these, the best resources for finding such resources are the ‘Reading List’ in
Blackboard and the Curtin Li
5. Do not use dissertations (theses) and unpublished working papers. While many of these
appear in searches from databases such as ProQuest they are not ‘published’ in the meaningful sense of having been peer reviewed and are often of low quality which undermines the quality of your own report.