Choosing a Future
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Choosing a Future

The Social and Legal Aspects of Climate Change

Edited by Anna Grear and Conor Gearty

The issue is no longer whether climate change is happening; it is rather what we should now be doing about it. Drawing together key thinkers and policy experts, this unique volume – also a Special Issue of the Journal of Human Rights and the Environment - engages with the human dimensions of climate change, offering a timely intervention into contemporary debates about the challenging relationship between law and society in a time of climate crisis. The result is an imaginative, well-informed and provocative collection of contemporary engagements with the greatest challenge of the age, concerned not only to understand the current crisis but to offer perspectives on how it can be addressed. At the heart of this volume is the conviction that change is urgent, possible and morally imperative.
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Chapter 9: Towards ‘climate justice’? A critical reflection on legal subjectivity and climate injustice: warning signals, patterned hierarchies, directions for future law and policy

Anna Grear


The recent high-level emergence of ‘climate justice’ in the normative and policy discourse addressing the social and legal aspects of climate change is welcome. However, certain dangers of co-option face the concept as it gains institutional traction. Drawing on a critical theoretical reading of the patterns of climate injustice and their relationship with liberal legal subjectivity (and with the related themes of the politics of dis/embodiment, corporate juridical privilege, (neo)colonialism and the highly uneven structure of globalized world order), this article argues that ‘climate justice’ is more likely to sustain the necessary resistive critical energies if informed by critical legal reflection on historical and contemporary patterns of climate injustice, particularly as they emerge in relation to the privileged trope of liberal legal subjectivity and the juridical privileging of the corporate form. Future policy directions indicated by the analysis are briefly introduced.

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