Opportunity - Special issue call for papers - Climate and Development

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Special issue call for papers - Climate and Development
Temple University / Kimberley THOMAS, PhD
Call for Papers/Abstracts
  • Climate Change
  • Policy and Regulation

Deadlines for submissions
  • Abstracts: 29 April 2022
  • Manuscripts: 1 November 2022
  • Projected publication: Summer/fall 2023

A paradox lies at the heart of the climate debate, with serious implications for both theory and praxis. On one hand, weak mitigation of climate change over the past few decades has spurred various attempts to motivate action by invoking a sense of emergency and exceptionalism (Oels 2013, von Lucke 2014). One such campaign aims to designate the present conjuncture in earth’s history as a distinct geological epoch, characterized by the unprecedented scale of anthropogenic impacts on the environment. The “Anthropocene’ is the most widely circulated term for this period but has come under intense criticism, in part for promulgating the notion that all humans are equally culpable for the terrestrial, biotic, and atmospheric transformations that have driven climate change, species extinctions, altered ocean chemistry, and habitat destruction on a global scale (Malm and Hornborg 2014, Davis and Todd 2017). In other words, the notion of the Anthropocene effectively flattens social difference by ignoring the highly skewed circumstances in which the combustion of fossil fuels and industrialization of manufacturing and economic activities have come to destabilize planetary-scale processes (Davis et al. 2019).

On the other hand are those who view climate change as inherently an issue of differential responsibility. This position maintains that a minority of nations, industrialists, political elites, and relatively wealthy consumers are disproportionately at fault for the climate crisis, at the same time highlighting that they are the least vulnerable to its effects. Climate justice scholarship and activism has focused on documenting and remedying these asymmetries through redistributive mechanisms like reparations, loss and damage, risk transfer and polluter-pays policies such as carbon taxes (Page 2008, Burkett 2009, Grasso 2010). However, financial redress within a legal climate justice framework relies on the accounting and assignment of costs that, at their core, assume that culprits and victims can be unambiguously identified (Barnett 2020). Thus, if the Anthropocene implies no social differentiation, justice theory suggests the existence of clear and distinct differences—a premise that quickly collapses once applied. This is evident in the intense debates and contestations that have long persisted among parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change over terminologies such as “loss and damage” and “liability and compensation”. Aside from questions of practicality, some decolonial thinkers are beginning to challenge the presumption that climate injustices can be rectified through legal means (see Anghie 2007). What possibility exists to remedy climate change and its uneven impacts within the remit of the laws and political institutions designed by the same broad set of actors that created these problems? How can climate justice be realized within a world system that, from its inception, has thrived on the exploitation of distant places and people not recognized as fully human? Such questions simultaneously pinpoint and contest the limits that liberalism imposes on climate justice and point to the need for more critical engagement with liberal theory and the ways it continues to inform mainstream environmental policymaking, activism, and political thought (see, for example, Povinelli 2016, Maboloc 2020, McLaughlin 2020).

Building on a series of sessions at the 2022 American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, we invite papers for a special issue in Climate and Development that contribute to understanding and perhaps resolving this paradox. We seek papers that offer deep and critical engagement with the liberal environmental roots inherent in mainstream environmental policymaking, activism, and political thought, and the specific kinds of limitations this present for radically advancing climate action/activism.

Final manuscripts should identify limits of liberal conceptions/enactments of justice, avenues through/around those limits, or both. The abstract should clearly indicate how the paper does so. Each paper must also adhere to the journal’s guidelines for submissions and communicate its relevance for ‘development,’ broadly understood.

If interested, please submit an abstract of 200–250 words to Kimberley Thomas (kimthomas@temple.edu) and Kevon Rhiney (kevon.rhiney@rutgers.edu) by Friday, 29 April 2022.