How can climate policy be made more just and fair? IIASA researchers have synthesized different dimensions of justice into a framework that can be used by climate scientists and policymakers, explaining how previous research has neglected many potential justice positions and how these can be implemented in policy contexts.
Dealing with climate change is not just about the environment – it is also about justice and fairness. This includes how we transition to cleaner ways of living, the different impacts on various groups of people, and who is responsible for what. Paying more attention to fairness and justice when making decisions will help policymakers to devise better climate policies that people can agree on.
Currently, people however don’t always understand or talk about these concepts in the same way. While experts may think about justice and fairness when they plan ways to, for example, reduce carbon emissions, they often don’t explain it clearly, instead using different words and measures, which can confuse both researchers and the public. This confusion makes it harder to share and understand the results.
In their new study published in Nature Climate Change, IIASA researchers propose a conceptual framework rooted in philosophical theory to address this gap in possibly the first systematic attempt to describe these different aspects or dimensions of justice for the climate domain in an interdisciplinary context. Their innovative framework synthesizes distributional, procedural, corrective, recognitional, and transitional justice that can be used by scientists and policymakers.
The framework aims to enhance interdisciplinary understanding of climate justice to prevent its mischaracterization and its misuse to justify delayed climate action. Recognizing that justice can either support or hinder decarbonization efforts, the researchers note that more research on justice-related issues is essential for the next cycle of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Zimm, C., Mintz-Woo, K., Brutschin, E. et al. Justice considerations in climate research. Nat. Clim. Chang. 14, 22–30 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-023-01869-0