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China's responsibility for climate changeEthics, fairness and environmental policy$
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Paul G. Harris

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781847428134

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847428134.001.0001

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Differentiating historical responsibilities for climate change

Differentiating historical responsibilities for climate change

Chapter:
(p.70) (p.71) Four Differentiating historical responsibilities for climate change
Source:
China's responsibility for climate change
Author(s):

Christian Ellermann

Niklas Höhne

Benito Müller

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781847428134.003.0004

This chapter examines historical responsibilities for climate change. It pulls apart the notion of historical responsibility and challenges common assumptions about it, doing so through rigorous analysis of data. The chapter delves into a politically sensitive aspect of past GHG emissions, namely the issue of differentiating historical responsibility. In so doing, it shows that contributions to climate change and responsibility for it are fundamentally different. The chapter describes a methodology for calculating ‘shares of responsibility’ rather than ‘shares of causal contribution’, which are more commonly addressed in analytical models. The significant difference between contribution to climate change and responsibility for it requires people to think in new ways about the sorts of burdens that can justly be demanded when applying the CBDR concept, notably in the case of China.

Keywords:   past GHG emissions, historical responsibility, climate change, China

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