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Constructions of climate justice in German, Indian and US media

Schmidt, Andreas, Schäfer, Mike S.
Climatic change 2015 v.133 no.3 pp. 535-549
climate, climate change, collective action, governance, politics, rights of way, social justice, Germany, India, United States
Collective action on climate change is easier when the involved actors share an understanding of climate justice, that is, if they agree on the morally right way of dealing with the issue. Such understandings have been shown to vary, however. Based on German, Indian and US media coverage, we develop a typology of different constructions of climate justice. The five patterns we identify differ considerably across several dimensions, including the valuation of certain goods and rights, the definition of moral in-groups, and the basic principles for climate governance. These patterns can be found in all three countries, but their importance varies between them. The US debate is especially conflictive, with some actors emphasizing freedom from state intervention and others demanding provident political action. Although the positions in Germany and India are less divergent, there is also no agreement on how to address climate change in a just way in these countries. In particular, the conflict between global and intergenerational justice demands – reflecting the nature of climate change – and the enduring relevance of traditional conceptions focusing on contemporary and national communities are intricate.