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Ekvall, Andreas, 2022. Climate governance in a well-ordered world : an analysis of Rawlsian climate justice and the goal of climate action. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development



The aspiration of normative theory to conceptualise climate justice is a contested endeavour. At best there are certain agreements about what constitutes distributional justice on a surface level, while it remains challenged whether such conceptualisation is helpful in the realisation of climate justice. This thesis sets out to derive the limitations of Rawls’ Political liberalism as a theory of climate justice, and as a basis of achieving climate action (SDG 13). This is achieved through the utilisation of a conceptual analysis and dialectical reasoning based on communitarianism. In the process, the thesis disavows the benefits and drawbacks of Rawls’ definition of justice as described in the theory of a well-ordered society. Rawls’ perception of justice perpetuates injustices in the well-ordered society by focusing on a few metrics of distributional justice which is caused by Rawls’ conception of public reasoning, the original position, the self, and rationality. The limitations of Rawls’ theory result in that other concepts as defined by Rawls become infeasible, such as: autonomy, rights, and freedom. The justification of the well-ordered society also becomes questionable, as it does not result in the motivation for moral behaviour, and it undermines democracy. This threatens the stability of Rawls’ ideal society. This is worsened by the conception of the primacy of justice over the good, neglecting the driving forces of the self and society. When applied to climate justice Rawls’ Political liberalism results in an inability to include key actors, actions, a commitment to global agreements, and essential features of distributional justice. The latter is an outcome of the limitations of the original positions, public reasoning, methodological nationalism, methodological individualism, self-determination, and the definition of distributional justice. When Rawls’ Political liberalism is applied to climate action, it becomes evident that it is an insufficient theory to achieve climate action. The lack of recognition of others and the monopoly of primary goods in Rawls’ Political liberalism as reflected in the contemporary global basic structure could result in the unity of weaker states, NGOs, and intergovernmental organisations. The chain of equivalence between these actors may result in a convergence based on thick values in the strive for transnational climate justice, resulting in greater motivation and a more stable agreement than one based on Rawls’ overlapping consensus. The achievement of an agreement is contingent on individuals having the material possibilities and a subjectivity suited for a hegemonic struggle for climate justice.

Main title:Climate governance in a well-ordered world
Subtitle:an analysis of Rawlsian climate justice and the goal of climate action
Authors:Ekvall, Andreas
Supervisor:Alarcon Ferrari, Cristian
Examiner:Bartholdson, Örjan
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2022
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:None
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
Keywords:Rawls’, distributional justice, communitarianism, Agenda 2030, climate justice
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Land economics and policies
Nature conservation and land resources
Deposited On:22 Jun 2022 06:29
Metadata Last Modified:23 Jun 2022 01:03

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