The Search for Environmental Justice
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The Search for Environmental Justice

Edited by Paul Martin, Sadeq Z. Bigdeli, Trevor Daya-Winterbottom, Willemien du Plessis and Amanda Kennedy

This is an extended and remarkable excursus into the evolving concept of environmental justice. This key book provides an overview of the major developments in the theory and practice of environmental justice and illustrates the direction of the evolution of rights of nature. The work exposes the diverse meanings and practical uses of the concept of environmental justice in different jurisdictions, and their implications for the law, society and the environment.
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Chapter 2: The effectiveness of the law in providing access to environmental justice: an introduction

Brian J. Preston


Environmental justice includes three concepts: distributive justice, procedural justice and justice as recognition. In this chapter, I will consider the ways in which the law supports (or fails to support) these in practice. Distributive justice concerns the distribution of environmental goods (or benefits) and environmental bads (or burdens). Distributive justice is promoted by giving substantive rights to members of the community of justice to share in environmental benefits (such as clean air, water and land, green space and a healthful ecology) and to prevent, mitigate, remediate or be compensated for environmental burdens (such as pollution and loss of green space, biological diversity or ecological integrity). Claims about distributive justice involve addressing three questions: who are the members of the community of justice to whom distributive justice is due? What are the environmental benefits and burdens to be distributed? And, what are the principles or criteria of distribution to be applied? Just arrangements should be assessed not only in simple distributive terms, but also in how distributions of benefits and burdens affect the capabilities of members of the community of justice to achieve valuable functionings (both activities and states of existence or being).

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