Towards a Just Solar Radiation Management Compensation System: A Defense of the Polluter Pays Principle

Ethics, Policy and Environment 17 (2):178-182 (2014)
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In their ‘Ethical and Technical Challenges in Compensating for Harm Due to Solar Radiation Management Geoengineering’ (2014), Toby Svoboda and Peter Irvine (S&I) argue that there are significant technical and ethical challenges that stand in the way of crafting a just solar radiation management (SRM) compensation system. My aim in this article is to contribute to the project of addressing these problems. I do so by focusing on one of S&I’s important ethical challenges, their claim that the polluter pays principle (PPP) is too problematic to be useful in determining responsibility for SRM compensation. Their argument for the latter claim consists in a series of allegations, mostly in the form of questions, that are thought to indicate serious difficulties standing in the way of using the PPP to craft a just compensation system. I argue that S&I fail to substantiate these allegations: the PPP is not as problematic as S&I suggest, and moreover, is a viable candidate for determining responsibility for SRM compensation. S&I raise five allegations against the PPP. I discuss each in turn.

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