Authored by: Tahseen Jafry

Routledge Handbook of Climate Justice

Print publication date:  November  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138689350
eBook ISBN: 9781315537689
Adobe ISBN:


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The diversity and range of chapters presented in this Handbook is a tribute to the vast scope that climate justice has to offer. From the outset, we set about not only highlighting complexities of the concept and exploring the range of definitions, philosophies and images associated with it, but also discussing how we can work towards climate justice. The different sections presented in the Handbook clearly exemplify this goal. Despite the chapters espousing different perspectives – covering theory, practice and policy – all have one thing in common: the need to foreground the views, circumstances and needs of those who have contributed least to climate change while being most affected by it, whether they reside in rural or urban areas in the Global North or South. Climate change is an issue facing all of humanity, and it is our responsibility to address the root causes of climate inequality and prioritise those who are the most vulnerable. To do this, we need a strong political will and an effective and enabling policy environment that will help us to transition to a low-carbon future. Arguably, this can only be achieved by working in partnerships and engaging in processes of governance that aim to transform the lives of those who are on the receiving end of climate change –related impacts. Getting commitment from political leaders at all levels (international, national, regional and local) to champion the cause and steer the way forward is critical. We have to some extent come a long way with the signing of the Paris Agreement and, moving on from that, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide the global community with a sense of direction and platform for action. Goal 13, on Climate Action, sets out a lofty set of targets to combat climate change and its impacts. To what extent some of the targets are coming to fruition remains unclear, though the results of the in-depth review at the High Level Political Forum in 2019 may provide some insights into this (United Nations Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, 2018). Perhaps what is required is for that in-depth review of progress to be conducted through a climate justice framework? Herein lies a challenge for researchers and scholars: in addition to being considered at theoretical and conceptual levels, climate justice also needs to be operationalised and to become a touchstone of climate action. To do this will require new research on the development of methodologies or tools that can be used to appraise climate injustice or justice. We need research that will lead to the development and testing of targets and indicators of climate justice. Indeed, how do we – and can we – measure climate justice? Without being able to do this, there is a danger that climate justice will remain merely aspirational.

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