The polluter-pays principle in climate change law: An economic appraisal

D. Heine*, Michael Faure, G. Dominioni

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

516 Downloads (Pure)


There is a lively debate among scholars and policymakers on whether either consumers or producers should be seen as responsible for pollution caused in the production and consumption of traded goods. In this article, we argue that, in conformity with intuitive conceptions of causation, the economic incidence of a Pigouvian tax can be seen as a measure of the relative contribution to pollution of consumers and producers. Taking this perspective on the polluter-pays principle can help increase ambition in climate change action because it reduces the relevance of the question “Who is the polluter?” in climate change negotiations and enables a focus instead on the issue of “What can be done?” to reduce carbon emissions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-115
Number of pages22
JournalClimate Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2020


  • Coasean bargaining
  • Pigouvian tax
  • causation of environmental harm
  • economic incidence of tax
  • polluter-pays principle
  • carbon tax


Dive into the research topics of 'The polluter-pays principle in climate change law: An economic appraisal'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this