Global political processes and the Paris Agreement

A case of advancement or retreat of climate justice?

Authored by: Susan P. Murphy

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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This chapter will examine the opportunities and barriers for securing consensus on action-guiding principles and appropriate institutions for activation and enforcement of climate justice rights and responsibilities within the contemporary structure of the global political order. Climate justice, and more specifically, the distributional, rectificatory and epistemic dimensions that inform contemporary conceptualisations of this intellectual construct, require a shared set of principles and an appropriate set of institutions for their activation. The chapter begins by describing the moral theoretical terrain of climate justice, before mapping the landscape of agencies, actors and networks that influence global political processes, and the patterns of interaction and engagement operating within this space. Taking the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Conference of Party (COP) as the primary spaces for global negotiation and decision making, and utilising methods of content and discourse analysis, the chapter will critically evaluate the Paris COP 21 negotiation process and Outcome Agreement (2016). It will also conduct multiscalar analysis to evaluate regional commitments and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) as innovative approaches to driving bottom-up consensus on climate justice principles and practices. Utilising a climate justice analytical lens, it will examine the opportunities and barriers for securing consensus and achieving climate justice outcomes within the contemporary global political architecture. It will argue that there is evidence to suggest that there is an emerging consensus concerning matters of distribution for future emissions. Further, that the inclusion of a Loss and Damage clause in the Paris Agreement points to some consensus concerning recognition of harms that are already arising. However, there is a worrying lack of progress on substantive issues of rectificatory justice and an increasing trend towards epistemic exclusion of both expert voices and the most climate-vulnerable populations, pointing to a possible multiplier effect of emerging climate injustice for these groups.

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