The common but differentiated responsibilities of states to assist and receive ‘climate refugees’

European Journal of Political Theory 14 (4):481-500 (2015)

This paper examines the responsibilities of states to assist and to receive stateless people who are forced to leave their state territory due to rising seas and other unavoidable climate change impacts and the rights of ‘climate refugees’ to choose their host state. The paper employs a praxeological method of non-ideal theorising, which entails identifying and negotiating the unavoidable tensions and trade-offs associated with different framings of state responsibility in order to find a path forward that maximises the protection of climate refugees within the constraints imposed by political feasibility. It argues that the responsibility of states to support climate refugees through financial and technical assistance should be treated separately from their responsibility to receive them. The former is a differentiated responsibility grounded in the ability to pay principle, or relative capability, while the latter is a common responsibility grounded in the fact that all states have causally contributed to their plight, albeit in varying degrees which cannot be, and need not be, precisely determined. A common state ‘responsibility to receive’ is linked with a right on the part of climate refugees to choose their host to suit their circumstances, which would provide a form of partial compensation for the injustice and trauma of their loss and damage. This right is expected to become more viable, and the political willingness of states to receive them more likely, the more that climate refugees are assured of adequate support for resettlement according to states’ differentiated responsibilities to assist
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DOI 10.1177/1474885115584830
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References found in this work BETA

Climate Change and the Duties of the Advantaged.Simon Caney - 2010 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 13 (1):203-228.
Just Emissions.Simon Caney - 2012 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 40 (4):255-300.
Spheres of Justice: A Defense of Pluralism and Equality.Joshua Cohen - 1986 - Journal of Philosophy 83 (8):457-468.
Climate Justice and Historical Emissions.Lukas H. Meyer & Dominic Roser - 2010 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 13 (1):229-253.

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Citations of this work BETA

Historical Use of the Climate Sink.Megan Blomfield - 2016 - Res Publica 22 (1):67-81.
Reparative Justice for Climate Refugees.Rebecca Buxton - 2019 - Philosophy 94 (2):193-219.

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