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Climate Justice and Capabilities: A Framework for Adaptation Policy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 December 2012

Abstract

This article lays out a capabilities and justice-based approach to the development of adaptation policy. While many theories of climate justice remain focused on ideal theories for global mitigation, the argument here is for a turn to just adaptation, using a capabilities framework to encompass vulnerability, social recognition, and public participation in policy responses. This article argues for a broadly defined capabilities approach to climate justice, combining a recognition of the vulnerability of basic needs with a process for public involvement. Such an approach can be used to engage stakeholders with varied perceptions of what is at risk, and to develop priorities for adaptation policy. It addresses both individual and community-level vulnerabilities, and acknowledges that the conditions of justice depend on a functioning, even if shifting, environment.


Type
Special Section: Safeguarding Fairness in Global Climate Governance
Copyright
Copyright © Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs 2012

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References

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20 See, e.g., “The Anchorage Declaration” of the Indigenous Peoples' Global Summit on Climate Change. Such a focus is also clearly part of the discourse of affected states, local social movements, and international NGOs—the actual political discourse of climate justice encompasses recognition more so than the academic literature on the concept.

21 They highlight the “local material and symbolic contexts in which people create their lives, and through which those lives derive meaning” and show that it is those “contexts” that are threatened by climate change. Adger, W. Neil et al. , “This Must Be the Place: Underrepresentation of Identity and Meaning in Climate Change Decision-Making,” Global Environmental Politics 11, no. 2 (2011), pp. 125CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

22 Ibid., p. 21.

Ibid.

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24 Nussbaum, Women and Human Development, p. 71.

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26 Defined politically as “being able to participate effectively in political choices that govern one's life; having the right of political participation, protections of free speech and association,” in Nussbaum, Creating Capabilities, p. 34.

27 See Holland, “Justice and the Environment in Nussbaum's ‘Capabilities Approach,’” and Holland, “Environment as Meta-Capability,” for the former, and Schlosberg, David, “Justice, Ecological Integrity, and Climate Change,” in Thompson, Allen and Bendik-Keymer, Jeremy, eds., Ethical Adaptation to Climate Change: Human Virtues of the Future (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2012)Google Scholar, pp. 165–84, for the latter.

28 Sen, Development as Freedom, p. 70.

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30 Nussbaum, Frontiers of Justice.

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32 Holland, “Justice and the Environment in Nussbaum's ‘Capabilities Approach’”; and Holland, “Environment as Meta-Capability.”

33 Nussbaum, Women and Human Development, p. 80.

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35 Leckie, Scott, Simperingham, Ezekiel, and Bakker, Jordan, eds., Climate Change and Displacement Reader (London: Routledge, 2012)Google Scholar.

36 Holland, “Environment as Meta-Capability.”

37 Holland, “Justice and the Environment in Nussbaum's ‘Capabilities Approach,’” p. 328.

38 Nussbaum, Women and Human Development, p. 74.

39 Page, Climate Change, Justice, and Future Generations; and Page, “Intergenerational Justice of What.”

40 Figueroa, Robert M., “Indigenous Peoples and Cultural Loss,” in Dryzek, John, Norgaard, Richard, and Schlosberg, David, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 232–50Google Scholar. For another discussion of a community-level approach to capabilities, in particular as applied to indigenous environmental justice, see Schlosberg, David and Carruthers, David, “Indigenous Struggles, Environmental Justice, and Community Capabilities,” Global Environmental Politics 10, no. 4 (2010), pp. 1235CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

41 Schlosberg, “Justice, Ecological Integrity, and Climate Change.”

42 Wolff, Jonathan and de-Shalit, Avner, Disadvantage (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

43 Ibid., p. 10.

Ibid.

44 See, e.g., Rasmus Heltberg and Misha Bonch-Osmolovskiy, “Mapping Vulnerability to Climate Change,” World Bank Policy Research Paper 5554 (2011); Climate Commission, The Critical Decade; the Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping System (fivims.net); and Maplecroft's Climate Change Vulnerability Index (maplecroft.com/about/news/ccvi.html).

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