Principled pragmatism in climate policy? The EU and changing practices of climate justice

Franz von Lucke has published an article in Political Geography.


Climate change constitutes one of the most pressing political problems of our time and has profound implications for global justice. However, despite the recent progress of the international negotiations embodied in the Paris Agreement, most scientists and activists agree that the adopted measures are not adequate or ‘just’ considering the magnitude of the problem. Thus, there is a pressing need for political forerunners that could push the regime towards a more just handling of the problem. The European Union for most of the time has presented itself as a strong advocate for progressive climate action and has been called a climate vanguard or ‘green normative power’. This paper critically assesses the EU's role concerning climate change from a perspective of global political justice, which builds on a tripartite theoretical conception, consisting of ‘non-domination’, ‘impartiality’ and ‘mutual recognition’. It inquires to which conceptions of justice the EU's climate strategy and approach to the international negotiations have corresponded, how and why changes have come about, and whether the EU was able to influence the international regime. The paper finds that while the EU started out from a focus on political measures linked to impartiality, after the failed negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009 it has become more open towards policies and instruments in line with mutual recognition and non-domination. Thus, the emphasis moved away from top-down, legally binding measures, towards voluntary bottom-up procedures, a recognition of difference and diplomatic outreach activities. While this shift was necessary to reinstate the EU's influence and secure the Paris Agreement, it could hamper the quest for robust climate abatement measures and global climate justice..

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Franziskus von Lucke
'Principled pragmatism in climate policy? The EU and changing practices of climate justice'
Political Geography, Volume 86, April 2021

Published Feb. 25, 2021 7:28 PM - Last modified Feb. 25, 2021 7:28 PM