Edited by Jordi Jaria-Manzano and Susana Borrás
Chapter 12: Environmental justice, climate justice and constitutionalism: protecting vulnerable states and communities
Described as the ‘defining human development issue of our times’ and ‘the biggest human rights issue of the 21st century’, climate change poses a grave threat to humanity. While all states are both contributors and victims at the same time, the contributions and consequences vary greatly across countries, regions and communities. People who are already in a vulnerable position due to poverty, gender and other reasons of social marginalization are more vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. Thus, climate change raises profound justice issues – those who have contributed most to the problem are not those who will be affected most by its consequences. At the same time, many developing countries badly need to ‘develop’. What does development mean in the context of climate change? The proponents of global environmental constitutionalism argue that increasing interdependence of nation states has created a certain ‘constitutionalization of international organizations’ and a degree of uniform constitutionalist principles such as human rights, state responsibility and ius cogens or erga omes norms. As we enter the Anthropocene, it is imperative to question Western society’s anthropocentrism and consumerist nature if we are to solve the biggest challenge that humanity faces: climate change. An environmental justice framing brings many of the above issues to the forefront. This chapter uses the fourfold manifestation of environmental justice proposed by Robert Kuehn as the framework: distributive justice, procedural justice, corrective justice and social justice. It uses environmental justice as an example of a concept that has entered the realm of international law and applies this in relation to vulnerable communities affected by climate change. The chapter discusses some seminal cases from South Asia, where apex courts have developed an extensive and robust jurisprudence on environmental rights. The concluding section draws on these principles and extrapolates them in relation to climate change. It also refers to some recent cases on climate change from other parts of the world which show promise for victims of climate change. It concludes by arguing that developed countries owe an ecological debt to developing countries, and that the environmental/climate justice framework provides a good starting point to address the inequities and vulnerabilities exacerbated by climate change.
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.
Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.
Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.