Duus-Otterström, Göran | 2022
British Journal of Political Science
The climate justice literature typically endorses a moral right to produce subsistence emissions, but this right appears problematic considering how urgent it has become to reduce all emissions. It seems that we are currently facing a dilemma between respecting people's right to subsistence and keeping emissions within a reasonably safe budget. This article argues, however, that there is no reason why a moral permission to produce subsistence emissions must be accompanied by an exemption from responsibility. Even when we are dealing with subsistence emissions, we can demand that people correct for having emitted if they can do so without jeopardizing their own vital interests. This reduces the tension between the right to produce subsistence emissions and avoiding very significant climate change. If many emitters offset their subsistence emissions or contribute to adaptation and compensation because of them, the negative consequences of recognizing this right are tempered when it comes to both mitigating climate change and responding to its adverse effects.