Department of Politics and International Affairs, Northern Arizona University and Barron Visiting Professor in the Environment and Humanities, Princeton University
Climate Justice and the Capabilities Approach: The Flourishing of Human and Non-Human Communities
Tuesday, April 7, 20094:30-6 PMBetts Auditorium, Architecture Building
Discussant: Stephen Pacala, D. Petrie Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Director, Princeton Environmental Institute
David Schlosberg is the Currie C. and Thomas A. Barron Visiting Professor in the Environment and Humanities at Princeton University for Spring 2009. He is Professor of Politics and International Affairs, and Director of the Environmental Studies Program, at Northern Arizona University. Professor Schlosberg is known nationally and internationally for his work in environmental political theory, environmental justice, and environmental movements. He has taught at the London School of Economics, has been Fulbright Senior Scholar in the Social and Political Theory Program at Australian National University, and is a Fellow of the Centre for Research in Environmental Action and Thought at Keele University in the UK. Schlosberg's books include Environmental Justice and the New Pluralism (Oxford 1999), Green States and Social Movements (Oxford 2003, co-authored with John Dryzek, Christian Hunold, and David Downes), Debating the Earth: The Environmental Politics Reader (Oxford 1998, 2nd edition 2005, co-edited with John Dryzek), Defining Environmental Justice (Oxford 2007), and, most recently, Environmentalism in the United States (Routledge 2009, co-edited with Elizabeth Bomberg). He is currently co-editing The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society.
Climate justice is a growing field of inquiry, and yet one that is unnecessarily limited in scope. Most authors who have addressed climate justice focus on conceptions of equity, and in particular inequity between existing human populations or between existing and future generations of human beings. I argue that there are key limitations in much of this literature, and that the issue of climate change necessitates a much more broad understanding of climate justice. The thesis here is that the capabilities approach, developed by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum and expanded in key ways, can be applied to a conception of climate justice. This approach enables a notion of climate justice that is applicable to the impacts of climate change on both human and non-human individuals and communities. This capabilities-based conception of climate justice will be compared to the demands of the climate justice movement. These groups often articulate justice in terms of demands for community capabilities, functioning, and social reproduction. Climate justice groups already illustrate the way that a capabilities approach can be applied to human communities and ecological systems.
Stephen Pacala received his Ph.D. in Biology from Stanford in 1982. After ten years on the faculty at the University of Connecticut, he moved to Princeton in 1992. He currently holds the Frederick D. Petrie Chair in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and is Director of the Princeton Environmental Institute. His research focuses on forests and the global carbon cycle. He also directs, with Robert Socolow, Princeton's Carbon Mitigation Initiative, which is aimed at finding solutions to the greenhouse warming problem. He has received numerous honors and awards, including election to the National Academy of Sciences in 2007.