Key debate: who is responsible for climate change?
In this step we’ll discuss power relationships, historical emissions and who is responsible for getting us out of the present and future predicament. This debate builds on the climate justice background in week 2.
The question Who is responsible for climate change? is perhaps best divided into two separate questions to discuss:
- Which corporations, nation states and other groups (such as class, gender, income, wealth) are responsible for the emissions that have led us to the present situation?
- And which international bodies, collaborating countries, nation states and groups should have the biggest responsibility for lowering present and future emissions?
- The first question is answered by researcher Richard Heede in Just 90 companies are to blame for most climate change, this ‘carbon accountant’ says (don’t miss the animation). Also see Which fossil fuel companies are most responsible for climate change? Do you agree with Heede that we should hold these 90 corporations accountable or are there others who share a large part of the historic responsibility?
- Another way to look at present emissions is to look at emission per country and emission per capita. Go to Carbon map – which countries are responsible for climate change? and click ‘emissions’ in the main bar and first ‘Continents’, then ‘CO2 per person’. You can click on the country where you live at any time to get numbers behind the map.
- One way of critiquing the per country emissions is that we only see nation states and thereby miss other actors. Do you agree that nation states are responsible for present and future emissions? Why? Why not?
- The per capita emission map could be critiqued for missing income inequality between different groups and individuals in different countries and in the world. The 1% of the worlds richest are mixed with the 99%. Do you agree or disagree? Why? Why not? Read more in World’s 26 richest people own as much as poorest 50%, says Oxfam.
© CEMUS and Uppsala University