chapter  12
The “polluter pays” principle: taking responsibility for one’s actions
Pages 12

Let us return once again to the commitment made by the state parties to the UNFCCC to protect the climate “in accordance with their common but diff erentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.” In the light of the problems with grandfathering discussed, it seems plausible to place particular emphasis on the “diff erentiated responsibilities” part of this principle. If diff erent states contributed-to diff erent extents-to causing climate change and thus have diff erent levels of responsibility, then it would seem that they should also contribute-precisely to this extent-to coping with climate change. This is exactly what the so-called “polluter pays” principle affi rms. It thereby takes up an intuition that every child learns early in life-namely, that one must take responsibility for one’s own actions: “You destroyed the tower, so see that you rebuild it.”