Allocating the Burdens of Climate Action: Consumption-Based Carbon Accounting and the Polluter-Pays Principle

In Beth Edmondson & Stuart Levy (eds.), Transformative Climates and Accountable Governance. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 157-194 (2019)
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Action must be taken to combat climate change. Yet, how the costs of climate action should be allocated among states remains a question. One popular answer—the polluter-pays principle (PPP)—stipulates that those responsible for causing the problem should pay to address it. While intuitively plausible, the PPP has been subjected to withering criticism in recent years. It is timely, following the Paris Agreement, to develop a new version: one that does not focus on historical production-based emissions but rather allocates climate burdens in proportion to each state’s annual consumption-based emissions. This change in carbon accounting results in a fairer and more environmentally effective principle for distributing climate duties.

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Ross Mittiga
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile


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