Presenter: Hugh Breakley

Do states (and their citizens) possess liabilities for the benefits they draw from historical carbon emissions prior to 1990? This date marks the period where international agreements and official awareness of the ensuing problem solidified. Developing countries (from the G77+China bloc) and prominent NGOs demand that states should accept such liabilities. I contend that arguments for inherited climate debts apply to other relevantly similar historical activities that leave humanity on the environmental precipice now facing it, specifically: human breeding leading to increased populations. I argue that the same principles that demand climate debt attaches to inherited-benefits-of-carbon-intensive-productivity apply with little modification to liability for prior-breeding-leading-to-population-growth. In both cases, contemporary citizens enjoy an inherited benefit (wealth/life) caused by prior activities, practices and choices (industry/breeding) that collectively create the urgent problem (current-atmosphere/current-population) of runaway global warming.

Venue

Forgan Smith Building (1),
St Lucia campus
Room: 
E302