A Fair Distribution of Responsibility for Climate Adaptation -Translating Principles of Distribution from an International to a Local Context

Philosophies 6 (3):68 (2021)
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Distribution of responsibility is one of the main focus areas in discussions about climate change ethics. Most of these discussions deal with the distribution of responsibility for climate change mitigation at the international level. The aim of this paper is to investigate if and how these principles can be used to inform the search for a fair distribution of responsibility for climate change adaptation on the local level. We found that the most influential distribution principles on the international level were in turn built on one or more of seven basic principles: (P1) equal shares, (P2) desert, (P3) beneficiary pays, (P4) ability, (P5) self-help, (P6) limited responsibility for the worst off, and (P7) status quo preservation. It was found that all the basic principles, but P1, P3, and P7, are to some extent translatable to local climate adaptation. Two major problems hamper their usefulness on the local level: (1) several categories of agents need to take on responsibility; and (2) emissions do not work as a base for all principles. P4, P5, and P6 are applicable to local adaptation without changes. P4 is of particular importance as it seems to solve the first problem. P2 is applicable only if the second problem is solved, which can be achieved by using risk of harm instead of emissions as the basis for desert.

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Erik Persson
Lund University


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