Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Philosophy and Public Affairs

Reader 1

Andrew Schroeder


This thesis addresses the topic of climate change in the context of the legal principle of unjust enrichment. Unjust enrichment is a legal issue that occurs when one party benefits from another party in an unfair manner. This paper will demonstrate that the creation and perpetuation of climate change produces a situation of unjust enrichment that occurs between the global North and the global South. First, an examination of the literature explains the three different models of unjust enrichment, which are then applied to climate change. Through this application, it is determined that climate change is an example of unjust enrichment through only two of the three models: corrective justice and distributive justice. Finally, a possible solution to climate change, which may also solve unjust enrichment, is analyzed. Through an examination of emissions trading systems, with a consideration of current activities occurring between the countries and institutions of the global North and South, this paper determines whether this policy instrument is truly effective at achieving both goals. Specifically, when taking into account the real-world actions of the countries and institutions of the global North that are involved in Southern development projects, there is a possibility that unjust enrichment persists even with these policy measures. As such, it is necessary to carefully examine and consider how policy options are truly impactful and successful at achieving their objectives.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.