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Climate Justice. The Significance of Historical Emissions (completed)

May 2010 – November 2013
Leader: Lukas Meyer
Post-doc Researcher: Alexa Zellentin
Prae-doc Researcher: Pranay Sanklecha
Student Assistant: Kathrin Brandstätter
Funded by the Austrian Science Fund

Issues of justice and equity are considered highly important in international climate negotiations. Among the main justice principles which dominate the political debate on international climate policy are principles of both compensatory and distributive justice, in particular the polluter pays principle and an egalitarian distributive principle requiring equal per capita emission rights among people currently alive. The situation we face is non-ideal: Particularly in the North, people alive now and in the past have often not kept within what could be considered their fair share of emissions; people fare highly unequally with respect to both the beneficial and the harmful consequences of past emissions.

In interpreting the implications of (both: compensatory and distributive) principles of justice a major dispute between North and South is whether, and how, historic emissions and their consequences can and ought to be taken into account: who among those currently alive can be held responsible for their ancestors’ historic emissions and their (current and future) harmful consequences; and how ought we take into account the beneficial consequences of historic emissions when allocating emission rights today?

The project aims at reducing disagreement (among negotiators in the ongoing international climate negotiations) about both the normative validity and the implications of the central compensatory and distributive dimensions of climate change.


Head of the section Univ.-Prof. Dr. Lukas Meyer Phone:+43 (0)316 380 - 2300
Fax:+43 (0)316 380 - 9705



Office and project management
Attemsgasse 25/II 8010 Graz
Mag. Kanita Kovačević Phone:+43 (0)316 380 - 2299
Fax:+43 (0)316 380 - 9705

please contact for an appointment

Study Programmes


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