Lecture Series

Climate Justice and Historical Emissions with Prof. Dr. Lukas H. Meyer

This talk will take place in Room Q-609
Friday, October 29, 2021 - 15:20 to 16:40

One important debate within climate justice regards the contentious issue of the normative significance of past emissions. In this talk, I discuss two arguments that explore their significance, and identify their shared presuppositions but differing normative implications. The first argument regards inherited benefits and holds that currently living people have realized unequal benefits from having inherited the benefits of past emissions-generating activities. Moreover, these unequal benefits are relevant for the distribution of the remaining permissible emission rights between states. The second argument regards the historically formed status quo-expectations of high emitters and holds that the frustration of such expectations that will result from the transition to a zero-emissions society might impose special costs on high emitters. Moreover, these costs are relevant for an understanding of the fair distribution of the burdens of that transition within states, but not between states. Taking fully and immediately into account the distributional implications of the first argument is likely to be politically infeasible for high emitting states today. Therefore, for the urgently needed international agreement that will specify the limitation on the global budget of the remaining permissible emissions, one should adopt a dynamic understanding of feasibility. All states are obliged to work towards changing the relevant constraints in such ways that taking into account historical responsibility for past emissions in the ways justified will become feasible.

Lukas Meyer is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Graz, Austria, and speaker of the Working Unit Moral and Political Philosophy.

He received his Doctorate from Oxford University and completed his Habilitation at the University of Bremen, was Faculty Fellow in Ethics at Harvard University 2000-01, Humboldt Research Fellow at Columbia University 2001-02 and Ass. Professor of Philosophy at the University of Berne 2005-09. Since 2014 Meyer has been the speaker of the interdisciplinary Doctoral Program Climate Change (funded by the Austrian Science Fund), and since 2019 speaker of the inter-faculty Field of Excellence Climate Change Graz. Meyer served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities 2013-17. As one of the first philosophers, he was a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). His book publications include Climate Change and Historical Emissions, co-edited, Cambridge UP 2017; Intergenerational Justice, co-edited Oxford UP, 2012; Legitimacy, Justice and Public International Law, edited, Cambridge UP, 2009; Historische Gerechtigkeit [Historical Justice], de Gruyter 2005. Meyer is a founding editor of the journal Moral Philosophy and Politics (de Gruyter). For more information see https://homepage.uni-graz.at/en/lukas.meyer/ and https://online.uni-graz.at/kfu_online/wbforschungsportal.cbshowportal?pPersonNr=69399



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