An issue of trust: state corruption, responsibility and greenhouse gas emissions


Climate change is increasingly seen to raise difficult normative issues. To date, cumulative emissions have been disproportionately from the developed world, while the consequences of climate change are anticipated to hit poorer countries hardest. For this reason, amongst others, it is suggested that more economically developed countries with high greenhouse gas emissions ought to transfer resources to less economically developed, lower emissions countries. Some proponents would justify these resource transfers by ethical or justice-based arguments, often based on some function of the emissions per capita of each country, such that rights of some sort are created and those nations which are emitting more (per capita) than some amount are to compensate those who are emitting less. In this letter we show that national emissions per capita, scaled by economic output, show a systematic negative correlation with state corruption.

We discuss this result in the context of justice-based arguments for per capita climate mitigation transfers, and suggest that it would be beneficial for the climate mitigation community to consider state corruption as a relevant factor in the development of mitigation policy.


Frame, D., and Hepburn, C. An issue of trust: state corruption, responsibility and greenhouse gas emissions. January 2010. Environmental Research Letters, v.5.