Research Handbook on Climate Change Adaptation Law
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Research Handbook on Climate Change Adaptation Law

Edited by Jonathan Verschuuren

This timely Research Handbook discusses the challenges brought about by the need to adapt to a changing climate. It considers how adaptation is necessary to address impacts resulting from the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere which is already unavoidable due to past emissions.
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Chapter 3: Adaptation and climate justice

Rosemary Lyster


This chapter will contribute a unique perspective on theoretical approaches to climate change justice in the context of climate change adaptation, relying on Amartya Sen’s latest book The Idea of Justice, which admittedly espouses a general theory of global justice. Sen’s conceptualization of global justice, and his insistence that the idea of justice should extend to the actual lives of those affected by injustice, is highly relevant to the issue of climate change adaptation.Within this overarching framework, the author will acknowledge the many attempts of political philosophers and environmental lawyers to address specific questions of corrective, distributive and procedural justice. Yet the author will argue that Sen’s insistence on impartial public reasoning for the achievement of global justice is intrinsically important to notions of climate justice. This builds on the admission by developed countries, at the July 2012 Bonn negotiations, that one of the reasons they find it difficult to commit to the higher end of their pledges is the lack of domestic support for action on climate change. The author will propose that an essential aspect of climate change justice is a ‘willingness to pay’ on the part of negotiating parties and that this can be derived via Sen’s notion of a deliberative global justice. Of course Sen’s idea of justice is deeply embedded in his Capability Approach which is highly relevant to vulnerability and resilience to climate change and attempts to adapt to it. The adoption of Sen’s Capability Approach necessarily invokes Martha Nussbaum’s distinctive Capabilities Approach encapsulated in Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach.

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