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Thomas Pogge’s Global Resources Dividend: A Critique and an Alternative

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Pogge’s proposal for a Global Resources Dividend (GRD) has been criticized because its likely effects would be less predictable than Pogge supposes and could even be counterproductive to the main aim of relieving poverty. The GRD might also achieve little with respect to its secondary aim of promoting environmental protection. This article traces the problems to Pogge’s inadequate conception of natural resources. It proposes instead to conceive of natural resources in terms of ‘ecological space’. Using this conception, redistributive principles follow with a more definite logic from Pogge’s own supporting moral argument. The proposed alternative approach also promises a more direct contribution to Pogge’s secondary aim of resource conservation and environmental protection. I conclude that if any redistributive resource-based tax should be levied on nations, then there are at least four decisive reasons to favour levying a tax related to a nation’s per capita utilization of ecological space rather than the GRD.

Affiliations: 1: School of Social and Political Studies, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK, Email:


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