The emerging geographies of climate justice


Working Paper 83

Abstract

Climate justice is a well-used concept within the international climate debate yet it has often remained little more than a static ideal. This paper brings together literatures on environmental justice, development processes, and the politics of scale to argue that we need to be more attentive to the emerging geographies of climate justice, particularly in the global South, where climate change provokes questions of uneven development processes, as well as environmental concerns.

Through an analysis of India’s climate policies and politics, as well as empirical work with civil society networks, mobilising around climate change, I make three arguments.

  • Firstly, I show how climate justice has been scaled as an international justice issue through public discourses, national policies and civil society engagement in India. I show how this political scaling of climate justice as international has become institutionalised and civil society actors engage with climate justice issues at different scales within this framework. I argue that this institutionalisation narrows the political space for alternative articulations and claims for climate justice.
  • Secondly, whereas climate justice has tended to focus on the nation-state as the key actor in addressing climate injustice I argue that this paper demonstrates the importance of a critical stance towards both state and non-state actors as both champions of justice and perpetrators of injustices.
  • Lastly, I argue that there are multiple spaces for climate justice claims that go far beyond the state and the international fora. To understand what is meant by climate justice beyond the policy rhetoric requires an exploration of the multiple manifestations and scales of climate justice and geographers could offer a critical contribution to an understanding of what national and local climate justice would mean in practice

Susannah Fisher