Chicago Journal of International Law


I applaud Eric A. Posner and David Weisbach's courage in taking the academically unpopular stand of arguing that the US and other developed countries are not morally required to pay significant amounts of money (or money-equivalents such as emission permits) to developing countries in the context of climate change. I believe their book may help narrow the gap between developed and developing countries' perceptions of justice on this matter. I differ with them in three respects. First, I think that we should acknowledge the fact that developed countries are unwilling to transfer significant amounts of money (not just in the climate change context) on distributive justice grounds, and adopt a moral theory that is more consistent with reality (but nevertheless requires significant transfers on humanitarian grounds). Second, I find merit in the argument that there is a moral flaw in the US's lack of significant action to reduce its relatively high per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the years after it became general knowledge that dangerous climate change was taking place and that it was anthropogenic. Third, I do not find the fact that developing countries will suffer the harsh consequences of climate change before the developed countries do to give the developed countries moral or bargaining advantage.