Historical Justice and the Climate Transition

Jeremy Moss, University of New South Wales

Abstract: Jeremy Moss explored historical justice and the climate transition focusing on approaches that have been put forward in relation to allocation of the remaining carbon budget, such as the ‘fault-based’ principle – referring to responsibility for past emissions. While a number of objections to the use of the fault-based principle have been raised, it is relevant and can be applied. For example, the objection that countries were previously ignorant to the impacts of their emissions is not valid given the considerable emissions produced by countries since 1990 have absolved them of reasonable ignorance. The idea that countries should not be responsible for emissions made before territorial and other political changes is not a persuasive justification for avoiding this approach. While some claim the application of a fault based principle as practically infeasible, it can be validly applied to inform countries of what their goals should be. Fairness for countries undergoing recent industrialisation should also be considered, which could be addressed through consideration of factors such as why emissions are made and the moral responsibility countries have.

This talk was held at:

Imagining a Different Future

Climate Justice Conference

The University of Tasmania with the support of the University of Utrecht Ethics Institute hosted a multidisciplinary conference examining the barriers to responding to climate change, implementing climate justice, and proposing ways forward. Among the keynote speakers were Law Faculty Professors Jan McDonald and Ben Richardson. The Law Faculty's Dr Peter Lawrence co-convened the conference with Jan Linehan. The conference took place in Hobart from 8-9 Feb 2018.

Despite the Paris Agreement, there are real concerns the prevailing neoliberal economic and political model, particularly with the move to more insular, nationalistic, fragile politics, cannot respond effectively to climate change and excludes key considerations such as ethics and justice. Videos and Podcasts from the conference are available on the Knowledge Hub.