What Do Climate Change Winners Owe, and to Whom?

Economics and Philosophy 37 (3):462-483 (2021)
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Climate ethics has been concerned with polluter pays, beneficiary pays and ability to pay principles, all of which consider climate change as a single negative externality. This paper considers it as a constellation of externalities, positive and negative, with different associated demands of justice. This is important because explicitly considering positive externalities has not to our knowledge been done in the climate ethics literature. Specifically, it is argued that those who enjoy passive gains from climate change owe gains not to the net losers, but to the emitters, just as the emitters owe compensation to the net losers for the negative externality. This is defended by appeal to theoretical virtues and to the social benefits of generating positive externalities, even when those positive externalities are coupled with far greater negative externalities. We call this the Polluter Pays, Then Receives ('PPTR', or 'Peter') Principle. This principle is then applied at two levels in the context of Canada. [Open access]
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First archival date: 2021-01-30
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