Next Article in Journal
State Fragility and Structural Gender Inequality in Family Law: An Empirical Investigation
Next Article in Special Issue
Climate-Related Standards and Multilateral Finance for Development
Previous Article in Journal / Special Issue
Access to Minerals: WTO Export Restrictions and Climate Change Considerations
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessArticle

Polluter-Pays-Principle: The Cardinal Instrument for Addressing Climate Change

Department of Environmental Science and Management, North South University, Bashundhara, Dhaka 1229, Bangladesh
Academic Editor: Sonia E. Rolland
Laws 2015, 4(3), 638-653;
Received: 8 July 2015 / Revised: 2 September 2015 / Accepted: 5 September 2015 / Published: 23 September 2015
PDF [213 KB, uploaded 23 September 2015]


This article traces the evolution of polluter-pays-principle (PPP) as an economic, ethical and legal instrument and argues that it has the potential of effecting global responsibility for adaptation and mitigation and for generating reliable funding for the purpose. However, the contradiction is that while it rests on neoliberal market principles, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change did not include the PPP as its provision though the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility based on respective capabilities” (Article 3.1) implicitly recognizes this. The article raises the basic question that under a free-market global system: why should the polluters not take responsibility of their actions so that the global society does not suffer? The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries apply this PPP in many of its forms. Some developing countries are also applying it albeit still more as a governmental rather than polluter responsibility. Currently there is an emerging consensus that a carbon tax should be applied globally to address the intractable problem of climate change. Since the problem relates to a global commons, the issue is how to apply the PPP globally yet equitably. This article brings in Caney’s proposal that as complementary to the PPP. The “ability to pay principle” (APP) can take care of emissions of the past agreed by the Parties and current and future legitimate emissions of the disadvantaged countries and groups of people. He calls the latter poverty-sensitive PPP. While PPP is primarily a market principle, APP is a principle of justice and equity. That polluters should pay the social and environmental costs of their pollution reflects the most fundamental principles of justice and responsibility. View Full-Text
Keywords: Article 3.1 of the UNFCCC; polluter-pays-principle; externality; global commons Article 3.1 of the UNFCCC; polluter-pays-principle; externality; global commons
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Khan, M.R. Polluter-Pays-Principle: The Cardinal Instrument for Addressing Climate Change. Laws 2015, 4, 638-653.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Laws EISSN 2075-471X Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top