Territorial Rights and Carbon Sinks
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Scholars concerned with abuses of the “resource privilege” by the governments of developing states sometimes call for national sovereignty over the natural resources that lie within its borders. While such claims may resist a key driver of the “resource curse” when applied to mineral resources in the ground, and are often recognized as among a people’s territorial rights, their implications differ in the context of climate change, where they are invoked on behalf of a right to extract and combust fossil fuels that is set in opposition to global climate change mitigation imperatives. Moreover, granting full national sovereignty over territorial carbon sinks may conflict with commitments to equity in the sharing of national mitigation burdens, since much of the planet’s carbon sink capacity lies within territorial borders to which peoples have widely disparate access. In this paper, I shall explore this tension between a global justice principle that is often applied to mineral resources and its tension with contrary principles that are often applied to carbon sink access, developing an analysis that seeks to reconcile what would otherwise appear to be fundamentally incompatible aims.
KeywordsTerritorial rights Carbon sinks Climate justice Emissions rights Permanent sovereignty Carbon budgets
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