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Towards ‘climate justice’? A critical reflection on legal subjectivity and climate injustice: warning signals, patterned hierarchies, directions for future law and policy

Anna Grear

Keywords: climate justice; climate injustice; co-option; critique; legal subjectivity; corporate juridical privilege; legal complicity; human rights; critical reflexivity

Abstract

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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