In Lukas Meyer & Pranay Sanklecha (eds.), Climate Justice and Historical Emissions. Cambridge University Press. pp. 123-140 (2017)

Authors
Brian Berkey
University of Pennsylvania
Abstract
It is commonly believed that the history of behavior that has contributed to the threat of climate change bears in a significant way on the obligations of current people. In particular, a number of philosophers have defended the Beneficiary Pays Principle, according to which those who have benefited from unjust emitting activity have a special obligation to bear costs of mitigation and adaptation. I claim that versions of the BPP that have been defended by others share a common problematic feature. Specifically, they seem to limit the benefits that ground obligations under the principle to those that derive from unjust acts, and thereby implicitly deny that other ways in which individuals might benefit from injustice can ground similar duties. I argue that there is no plausible theoretical basis for this distinction. I conclude that we should take seriously a different type of principle that can be plausibly called a Beneficiary Pays Principle, according to which those who benefit from injustice, all things considered, are obligated to give up the unjust benefits that they enjoy.
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