Climate justice and historical emissions

Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 13 (1):229-253 (2010)
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Climate change can be interpreted as a unique case of historical injustice involving issues of both intergenerational and global justice. We split the issue into two separate questions. First, how should emission rights be distributed? Second, who should come up for the costs of coping with climate change? We regard the first question as being an issue of pure distributive justice and argue on prioritarian grounds that the developing world should receive higher per capita emission rights than the developed world. This is justified by the fact that the latter already owns a larger share of benefits associated with emission generating activities because of its past record of industrialisation. The second question appears to be an issue of compensatory justice. After defining what we mean by compensation, we show that different kinds of compensatory principles run into problems when used to justify payments by historical emitters of the North to people suffering from climate change in the South. As an alternative, we propose to view payments from wealthy countries for adaptation to climate change in vulnerable countries rather as a measure based on concerns of global distributive justice



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Dominic Roser
University of Zürich

Citations of this work

Climate Change and Individual Duties to Reduce GHG Emissions.Christian Baatz - 2014 - Ethics, Policy and Environment 17 (1):1-19.
The Ethical Challenges in the Context of Climate Loss and Damage.Ivo Wallimann-Helmer, Kian Mintz-Woo, Lukas Meyer, Thomas Schinko & Olivia Serdeczny - 2019 - In Reinhard Mechler, Laurens M. Bouwer, Thomas Schinko, Swenja Surminski & JoAnne Linnerooth-Bayer (eds.), Loss and Damage from Climate Change. Cham: Springer. pp. 39-62.
Benefiting From Failures to Address Climate Change.Holly Lawford-Smith - 2014 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 31 (4):392-404.

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
Why Sufficiency is Not Enough.Paula Casal - 2007 - Ethics 117 (2):296-326.
Realizing Rawls.Thomas Pogge - 1989 - Cornell University Press.
On Benefiting From Injustice.Daniel Butt - 2007 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 37 (1):129-152.

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