New paper on social justice and societal transformation under climate change

A new paper has just been published on the topic of social justice and societal transformations to meet the global 1.5C climate change target.

This paper was a collaboration between 10 researchers in the INOGOV network to explore the role of social justice in (potentially) enhancing the political feasibility of societal transformations for urgent global climate action.

There has long been much attention to issues of social justice in dealing with climate change in recent years. This is often focused on the justice implications linked to global cooperation (e.g. within international negotiations), or on justice-related impacts at a local level (e.g. vulnerable groups disproportionately affected by climate change). Our paper takes a slightly different perspective, exploring how attention to social justice can help to shape effective and ethical climate responses to support urgent climate action.

The abstract of the paper is below:

“Constraining global climate change to 1.5C is commonly understood to require urgent and deep societal transformations. Yet such transformations are not always viewed as politically feasible; finding ways to enhance the political feasibility of ambitious decarbonization trajectories is needed. This paper reviews the role of social justice as an organizing principle for politically feasible 1.5C transformations. A social justice lens usefully focuses attention on first, protecting vulnerable people from climate change impacts, second, protecting people from disruptions of transformation, and finally, enhancing the process of envisioning and implementing an equitable post-carbon society. However, justice-focused arguments could also have unintended consequences, such as being deployed against climate action. Hence proactively engaging with social justice is critical in navigating 1.5C societal transformations.”

The paper is fully open access and can be found here.


Patterson, J.J., Thaler, T., Hoffmann, M., Hughes, S., Oels, A., Chu, E., Mert, A., Huitema, D., Burch, S., Jordan, A. (2018) Political feasibility of 1.5°C societal transformations: the role of social justice. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. 31:1–9 [Open Access].

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