The geography of emissions and forward-looking responsibility


Dr Holly Lawford-Smith, University of Melbourne


Dr Genevieve LeBaron, Department of Politics
Dr Chasca Twyman, Department of Geography

This project is part of the Acting Together Against Climate Change interdisciplinary scholarship network.

Grantham Scholar

Anton Eriksson

When you burn fossil fuels by driving your car, standard emissions accounting attributes those emissions to you (and more generally, to your city, or country). But this ignores the history of the fuels: where they were drilled for, and the potentially many steps in the supply chain between the source and your eventual act of burning them. The question of this project is whether the current ‘statist’ model of accounting for greenhouse gas emissions can be justified given extensive international trade relationships.

This project covers two broad topics: the ethics of consumption, and climate ethics. More generally, it asks, can an end-consumer inherit responsibility for the harms involved in a product’s history? How should responsibility for these harms be shared between those involved with a product at various stages? And does our current method of accounting for GHGs distribute responsibilities in a way that would be unjustified if we had a more accurate picture of the geography of emissions across national borders?

Contact: Anton Eriksson,