Territoriality Inequality and CO Emissions

The human influence on the global climate raises a range of ethical considerations. For example, how much change in climate-related parameters should be tolerated? Is the lack of scientific certainty a legitimate reason for inaction? Does cost-benefit analysis provide a fair grounding for decisions on climate policy? Do developed countries have special responsibilities to act before the poorer nations (Brown, 2001)? The climate negotiations have, in particular, brought to the fore debates on distributive justice - for example, about:

• allocating the costs of preventing climate change;

• allocating the costs of coping with the consequences of climate change;

• what a fair bargaining process would be like; and

• what a fair allocation of emissions of greenhouse gases would be (Paterson, 2001).

There are many attempts to cover these vast normative territories (Toth, 1999; Rosa and Munasinghe, 2003). Large parts of the contributions to these debates argue for the need and relevance of a specific ethical consideration or the particular merits of a certain approach (see, for example, Rowlands, 1997; Ikeme, 2003; Tonn, 2003).

The problem with most of the above-mentioned contributions is that they take for granted the ethical issues inherent in the way that international relations are organized. The fundamental question of 'how we might live' within the context of world politics (Booth et al, 2000) has already been given a crucial answer by the practice and discipline of international relations. We know this answer fairly well. It is about the unspoken necessity and naturalness of living in territorially defined political communities. However, one has to realize that international relations pose a certain challenge for reflecting on ethical considerations. The problem of inequality is already deeply inscribed in our modern accounts of the international (Walker, 2002a). As Franke (2000) states:

... the traditions of international thought and practices are founded upon basic Western stories regarding how humans, necessarily, come to form political society within states and, furthermore, how these territorial communities themselves must necessarily engage one another in a disordered 'social' sphere.

Walker and Franke are highlighting the important point that international relations cannot be understood as merely an empirical arena for making claims about what is equal and unequal because the practice of international relations already implies a specific framing of these issues. Therefore, my ambition in this section is not to engage in another normative argument about justice in relation to the allocation of greenhouse gas reductions, but to explore how the idea of territoriality informs and shapes these normative debates and arguments.

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