Climate Justice from the Perspective of Philosophy

Authored by: Andreas Niederberger

Routledge Handbook of the Climate Change Movement

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415839259
eBook ISBN: 9780203773536
Adobe ISBN: 9781135038878


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The salience of philosophical concepts and themes is certainly related to new insights and developments within philosophy. But it also always reflects political and social changes. In this light one can explain the preeminent role of theories of justice and as a consequence also the preeminent role of political philosophy today. The popularity and importance of these two theories in the last 40 years can be explained by the end of the confrontation between Marxist and liberal approaches and the emergence of new political actors, like, for instance, new social movements. And the current success of applied ethics is (at least also) due to the transformation of the universities and the growing importance of criteria of applicability to scientific research (and its funding). If one considers the urgency which many attribute to climate change and its impacts, it is, given the preceding diagnosis, not surprising that philosophy reacts to this issue. Furthermore, this preoccupation is, since the beginning of the new Millennium, 1 growing in importance, increasingly international, and it transcends established schools. Philosophy offers itself as an interlocutor in the political debate where different political actors already refer to the notion of climate justice. 2 One could observe such direct references to principles of climate justice during the UN conferences on climate change, when spokespersons for the Global South claimed greater negotiation power and when they asked for acknowledgment of or even compensation (for instance in the form of financial or technology transfers) for the advantage states in the Northern hemisphere had through their previous ability to use resources which contribute or contributed to climate change. 3

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