When it comes to climate change, there are many debates to be had. One of them is certainly the question of fairness and responsibility. While some countries have enjoyed the luxury that the use of oil, coal & gas brought for many decades, others have been left behind. Through economic growth, some of these countries are now closing the gap and have the „western standard“ as their role model. Everyone would like to own a big house, drive multiple cars and enjoy the lazy life that these technologies enable us to live. Some voices now criticize the growing emissions which come along with the advances and demand the same CO2 budgets for countries which live in different income levels and have different population structures. While it does make sense that everyone should minimize their impact on the planet, is it really just to forbid others to reach the same level of comfort that some of us have enjoyed for many many years rather than us lowering our living standards?
One of the ways economists try to address this issue are carbon taxes. While the system is far from perfect, I believe they could be one way to address inequality and injustice. Richer countries (which happen to be the big emitters of CO2 as well) have the financial capacity to balance the scale. Furthermore, the regions of the world which will have the biggest impacts (among them: Central Africa, coastal communities in the pacific and many more) don’t have the resources to adapt to the coming challenges. These climate change adaptations could be financed through the carbon taxes paid by the big emitting countries and could bring us a tiny step closer to justice between countries. Climate justice on the other hand, is another topic which we’ll have to address in a different conversation.