For example many of our Pacific island neighbours have contributed the least to climate change through emissions, but stand to face the worst impacts.
Victoria University climate expert Dr Adrian Macey said disputes over responsibility for climate change go back to the first international agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1990.
Rooted in that was an understanding developed countries had contributed greenhouse gas emissions over history – think the dirty coal-fuelled industrial revolution – and hence should make the greatest reductions.
Developing countries argued to catch up economically, they should be allowed to continue emitting, for a time.
But while it was an equitable approach, there were inherent flaws, Macey said.
“The reality is we all need to get to zero emissions. Rather than the right to pollute, it needs to be framed as the right to energy.”
Hence why the latest Paris Agreement has all countries on board, with equity addressed in other measures such as green technology sharing, funding for adaptation costs for countries predicted to be impacted the most – such as our Pacific neighbours, and the target of limiting warming to 1.5C instead of 2C.