Dr Rowena Maguire and Bridget Lewis
Climate Change as a Justice Issue
Inequality in respect of climate change arises:
communities most vulnerable to the associated impacts are
least responsible for current levels of greenhouse gas
emissions (GHG) in the atmosphere.
Developed countries
Main contributors to current GHG.
 Main beneficiaries of the profits generated by GHG
Developing countries
Future limitations on GHG emission will interfere with their
right to development. Economic development increases a
society’s resilience to climate change.
Adverse Impacts of Climate Change
for Developing Countries
Geographical vulnerability of many developing
states: small island states; countries with arid/semi
arid areas; forest areas; areas prone to natural
disaster, areas prone to drought/desertification:
Article 4 (8) UNFCCC.
Food Security and Production: 40% of
populations in Asia and Pacific employed in
agriculture, 65% of African populations
dependent upon agriculture for livelihoods.
Adverse Impacts…
Strong relationship between rural/indigenous
communities and connection with land: change of
customary practices/traditions as result of climatic
Population displacement:
Small Island States: sea level rise leading to regional or
internal displacement
Africa: desertification/drought leading to regional or
internal displacement
Asia (Bangladesh, India, China): flooding, sea level rise
leading to regional or internal displacement.
Defining Remedial Justice
Provide a remedy when a wrong has been suffered.
Strength of theory is ability to provide
compensation/other appropriate remedy.
Weakness of theory as it is reactionary (c/f with
preventative) in nature.
Applying Remedial Justice
UNFCCC (International Level)
Green Climate Fund /
Loss & Damage
Money available to
assist developing nations
in mitigating/adapting
to climate change.
 Finance is limited so
board of Fund have
been given juridical
CSG (National Level)
Need a legal right to
be infringed or
process not followed in
order for the matter to
go before a court.
Defining Energy Justice
Recognises the inequality that exists in:
 Accessing
energy resources;
 Associated health and environmental implications
associated with the resource used.
Aims of Theory
 Access to energy is more equitably available.
 Ensuring that health risks are phased out and
replaced with sources that are reliable and
Examples of Energy Justice
Access Issues
Health/Environmental Issues
Developed Countries
Developed Countries
Rural communities off
grid and placement of
hazardous equipment.
Developing Country
Time spent collecting
biomass materials
detracts from other
pursuits: education and
livelihood pursuits.
CSG – impacts on
agricultural land
Developing Countries:
Indoor pollution is
responsible for 1.6
million deaths per year,
which is one life lost
every 20 seconds.
Defining Social Justice
“the same underling racial, political and economic factors that
cause disproportionate environmental harms are also
responsible for poor housing, poor quality schools, lack of
employment opportunities and other problems in many
Theory requires considerations beyond pure
environmental or climate considerations.
Requires consideration of the factors underlying
poverty and inequality.
Applying Social Justice
International Level (TWAIL)
 Post
colonial economic policies perpetuate continued
economic subordination of the South.
 Fundamental shift is required to alter the North’s
obligations beyond current comfort levels.
Application within UNFCCC
 Holistic
assessment of relevant social, economic, political
and environmental factors is required for Adaptation
planning and funding.
Environmental Justice and Climate
Distributive justice and Climate Change
 Distribution
of liability for mitigating climate change.
 Distribution of adverse effects of climate change.
Procedural justice and Climate Change
 Opportunity
for those feeling impacts of environmental
change to be consulted and their opinions represented
within policy responses and measures.
UNFCCC Application
Environmental Justice
Mitigation Obligations
 Emission
reduction commitments
 International Environmental Principle: ‘Common but
differentiated responsibility’ (CBDR) used as the basis for
mitigation commitments.
 Many possible different interpretations of CBDR
 Developed
countries: highlight importance of the word
‘common’ – to mean that all parties must take action.
 Developing countries: per capita and historical contributions
must be taken into account.
International Climate Justice Movement
 While
evidence that ‘justice theories’ have influenced
UNFCCC policy, language of justice not included in
 Lack of formal recognition of justice implications of
climate change within UNFCCC has led to development
of international climate justice movement.
 Movement uses a combination of the theories of justice.
 Bali Principles of Climate Justice: 27 Principles
recognising climate injustice. Innovative ideas on the
types rights/responsibilities required.
It is useful to examine “injustice” through a variety
of lens.
No one justice theory has the ability to respond to
the multifaceted justice issues arising as a result of
climate change.
Ongoing Justice Issues in UNFCCC
 Mitigation:
meaning of common but differentiated
 Adaptation: who is going to pay for the costs of
Thank you for your attention
Full Copy of Article available:
 Rowena
Maguire and Bridget Lewis, ‘The Influence of
Justice Theories on International Climate Policies and
Measures’ 8(1) Macquarie Journal of International and
Comparative Environmental Law, 2012, 16.
Publications on:
 International Regulation of Climate Displacement
 International Environmental Principles and Justice
 REDD and Justice
 Brazil, South Africa, China and India and UNFCCC