Book summary: Climate Justice in a Non-Ideal World

02 August 2017

IIED's Achala Abeysinghe and Saleemul Huq co-author a chapter in the book 'Climate Justice in a Non-Ideal World', exploring the different viewpoints from leading experts on what would be a just outcome to the climate change problem. 

Cover of Climate Justice in a Non-Ideal World

Climate Justice in a Non-Ideal World

Clare Heyward and Dominic Roser (Eds.)
Oxford University Press 2016 – Book, 352 pages

The book makes the case for putting the various different theories on climate justice into practice, demonstrating how these theories can be made more relevant and applicable to political realities and public policy. 

Split into three sections, the first part of the book discusses the aspects of the climate justice debate that become ever more pressing due to the shortcomings of current global action on climate change. Part two makes specific suggestions for adjusting current policies and negotiating procedures in ways that are feasible in the short term. The third and final part reflects on how philosophical work plays out in debates in climate science, communication, and politics.

According to Saleemul Huq, the book is particularly timely following the United States' withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, which has plunged the issue of climate justice into the global spotlight. 

"The US has withdrawn from the Paris Agreement on the basis that the deal imposes a disproportionate financial and economic burden on the country. President Trump articulated his intention to pull out in terms of justice and fairness," says Huq in an interview.

"That's a perception − and not one shared by the rest of the world. No other countries, not even the developed countries, are willing to join Trump. And it's worth remembering that the US has made this argument before. President Clinton signed the Kyoto Protocol but President George W. Bush, when he took office, refused to abide by it. The issues of climate justice and climate equity are indeed highly topical now – but they have been at heart of the climate negotiations from the very beginning."

The chapter by Achala Abeysinghe and Huq, 'Climate Justice for LDCs Through Global Decisions', explores how climate change is impacting the world's poorest countries and makes recommendations on how they can position themselves in the global climate negotiations.

"The Least Developed Countries (LDCs) argue that carbon emissions – whether they come from rich countries such as the US or big developing countries such as China and India – will hit them the hardest. The LDCs have not created the problem: if you add up all their emissions they count for less than three per cent of the global total. But they are suffering and will continue to suffer the most. The biggest polluters have caused the problem. The LDCs are the victims − and should argue to be duly compensated," adds Huq.

"Our chapter argues that this group of poor countries at global climate summits can leverage their negotiating capacity if they can work together. With collective leadership and by negotiating as a group rather than lots of small, individual countries, their position will get greater traction."


Climate Justice in a Non-Ideal World, edited by Clare Heyward and Dominic Roser (2016), available to purchase from Oxford University Press, 352 pages, hardback (ISBN: 9780198744047)/e-book (e-ISBN: 9780191804038); DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198744047.001.0001

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