Historical responsibility for climate change: defining aspects
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Since 1990, the academic literature on historical responsibility for climate change has grown considerably. Over these years, the approaches to defining this responsibility have varied considerably. This article demonstrates how this variation can be explained with reference to combining various aspects in defining of historic contribution and responsibility without always explicating them. Scientific knowledge that takes choices among defining aspects for granted is likely to become a foundation for distrust, both within science and among negotiators under UNFCCC and elsewhere. On the other hand, for various reasons, not all choices can be explicated at all times. This article is intended to guide those who need to evaluate the assumptions underlying specific claims regarding historical responsibility. As such, the article aims to map, review, and analytically classify the academic literature on historic contributions to and responsibility for climate change into categories of defining aspects. One immediately policy--‐relevant conclusion emerges from this exercise: Coupled with negotiators’ highly divergent understandings of historical responsibility, the sheer number of defining aspects makes it virtually impossible to offer scientific advice without creating distrust in certain parts of the policy circle. This conclusion suggests that any scientific attempt to establish historical responsibility will have little relevance to actual policy unless policymakers first negotiate a clearer framework for its establishment.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-86869OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-86869DiVA: diva2:582995