Climate change and contributatory fault

Written by Steve Vanderheiden

Legal analyses reveal what persons can be held responsible for in this moral sense:  we are responsible for bad outcomes that that result from our voluntary acts and omissions, insofaras those outcomes could reasonably have been anticipated and avoided.  In legal theory, this is known as "liability based in contributory fault."

Signatories to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change not only accepted the scientific findings that people have been and continue to be highly unequal contributors to the problem, but have also decided that these were not faultless contributions.  Following the1990 realease of the Intergovernmental Panel's first assessment report, detailing the causes and effects of climate change, further greenhouse eissions caused caused foreseeable (and therefore culpable) rather than accidental harm.  No longer could parties plead ignorance concerning the causes and effects of climatae change as a tenable strataegy for deflecting responsibility for climate-related harm they continued to cause.

Steve Vanderheiden, in Moral Ground, p.307

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