Responsibility and Climate Change


  • Dale Jamieson



Climate change, Firms, International regimes, Pluralism, Responsibility



I begin by providing some background to conceptions of responsibility. I note the extent of disagreement in this area, the diverse and cross-cutting distinctions that are deployed, and the relative neglect of some important problems. These facts make it difficult to attribute responsibility for climate change, but so do some features of climate change itself which I go on to illuminate. Attributions of responsibility are often contested sites because such attributions are fundamentally pragmatic, mobilized in the service of a normative outlook. We should be pluralists about responsibility and shape whatever conceptions can help to explain, guide, and motivate our responses to climate change. I sketch one such notion, ‘intervention-responsibility’, and argue that it should be ascribed to international regimes and organizations, states and other jurisdictions, individuals, and firms. Each has different capacities and thus different intervention-responsibilities responsibilities, but these differences are not always mirrored in public discussion. In particular, the moral responsibility of firms has been greatly neglected.