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date: 24 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter critically explores the political and moral challenges involved in understanding the harms of climate change as the product of structural injustices with a specific focus on political responsibility. The chapter stages a critical encounter between Iris Marion Young’s account of political responsibility, and the debate among climate justice theorists on how to assign responsibility for mitigation and adaptation to citizens and states. This encounter demonstrates the value of a hybrid approach that includes, and bridges, forward looking shared responsibility and backward looking liability models, but also reveals a major predicament. The more that structural injustices based on historical responsibility are backgrounded, the easier it becomes to reach agreements between the world’s most vulnerable and most privileged. Yet doing so accelerates the skewed distribution of climate vulnerability toward the least privileged, diminishing the common ground needed to achieve an equitable allocation of responsibility for climate change.

Keywords: responsibility, structural injustice, liability, Iris Marion Young, climate justice

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