ABSTRACT. In a recent analysis, Glen P. Peters, Robbie M. Andrew, Susan Solomon, and Pierre Friedlingstein ask whether or not the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) submitted by the US, the EU, and China ahead of the 21st Conference of the Parties in Paris really are as “fair and ambitious” as the Lima Call for Climate Action makes clear they were supposed to be; in the end they conclude that not one of these countries is doing its fair share. While the Peters et al. analysis is a laudable first step on the path to addressing the important question as to whether or not the Paris agreement justly distributes the burdens of mitigating the effects of climate change, the conclusions of analyses like theirs are only as plausible as the ethical assumptions on which they rely, and – I argue – those on which Peters et al. rely are not especially plausible. This article attempts to address this shortcoming of the Peters et al. analysis. Using what I argue is a considerably more plausible view of what a fair distribution of the mitigation burden would look like, the Climate Equity Reference Framework, I in effect repeat the analysis, finding that while the US and the EU are indeed far from doing enough, China is in fact doing more than its fair share. pp. 120–131

Keywords: Paris; justice; fair; mitigation; climate change; Peters et al.

How to cite: McBee, Joshua D. (2017), “Distributive Justice in the Paris Climate Agreement: Response to Peters et al.,” Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice 9(1): 120–131.

Received 7 June 2016 • Received in revised form 28 July 2016
Accepted 29 July 2016 • Available online 20 August 2016


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Department of Philosophy,
Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts & Sciences,
Johns Hopkins University

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