This article provides a first rough sketch of how to conceptualize countries’ present and historical contributions to the loss of global ecosystem services, i.e., ecosystem services of which the delivery is global and omnidirectional, and discusses the implications of questions concerning the international distribution of responsibilities. On the basis of limited empirical data about past and present land conversion, some first calculations suggest that keeping converted land in a converted state, thus preventing ecosystems recovery, may contribute more to current loss of global ecosystem services than new conversion of ecosystems. Moreover, many developing countries in the tropics may contribute more to the loss of global ecosystem services, in both absolute terms and per capita, than many developed countries in temperate zones. This would make finding an equitable arrangement for international allocation of responsibilities for biological conservation far more complex than for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, raising new and challenging questions for normative theorists.
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