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Climate Justice Begins at Home: Conceptual, Pragmatic and Transformative Approaches to Climate Justice in Scotland

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Original languageEnglish
JournalScottish Affairs
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


n March 2012 the Scottish Parliament unanimously passed a motion ‘strongly endors[ing] the opportunity for Scotland to champion climate justice’. To date, discussions around climate justice within Scottish policy have largely focussed on international dimensions. Questions remain as to what climate justice means at home in Scotland. This article aims to engage with such questions. It begins with an overview of the theoretical underpinnings of climate justice discourses and discusses the various ways that climate justice is framed and understood. We then introduce a categorisation of three broad approaches to climate justice which are being seen globally: conceptual, pragmatic and transformative. We discuss how climate justice has been pursued in practice to illustrate the different forms that can occur under a climate justice banner, and the implications of different understandings of the concept. Using the human rights based approach to climate change as an illustration of the malleable nature of climate justice, we categorise and critique the dominant approach to climate justice used in Scotland. We find that climate justice is a label which can be applied to a range of practices, with differing results. It is hoped that this article encourages further reflection and debate on the particular flavour of climate justice which has been chosen in Scotland and its implications.

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