Co-producing theory through the practice of climate justice (CJ): A round table of researchers and practitioners of CJ

Type: Panel
Theme: Public Engagement in Geography
Sponsor Groups: Climate Specialty Group, Ethics, Justice, and Human Rights Specialty Group, Human Dimensions of Global Change Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Napoleon A2, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Organizers: Julie Snorek, Emily Williams
Chairs: Julie Snorek


Session Summary:

Mitigation and adaptation of climate change hazards does not always produce more just societies. Firstly, climate change impacts experienced in the communities with the lowest adaptive capacity tend to be ignored by dominant political and economic institutions; secondly, false adaptive solutions – including cookie-cutter policies for adaptation which are not applicable to the unique needs of local communities – may exacerbate rather than alleviate vulnerability; and thirdly, the non-mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) production continues to accelerate the pace of anthropogenic climate change. These problems are relevant to the growing discourse around climate justice (CJ), and yet the term’s broad definition and relative flexibility has been confused with multiple practical and conceptual applications which sometimes talk past one-another. This panel invites discussion from both researchers and practitioners to co-produce and co-develop the concept of CJ in order to develop a unified framework to respond to the key challenges outlined above.

The concept of co-production stems from the desire to root academic scholarship in the needs of the public, and involves stakeholders – including NGO practitioners, government representatives, community members, and academics – to enhance the applicability of theoretical and empirical scholarship. The concept of environmental justice reflects a long history of co-production between practitioners and researchers (Grafton et al. 2015), which has been demonstrated also through the European project the Environmental Justice Atlas ( The EJAtlas is a collaborative, international research, teaching, networking, and advocacy tool that has catalogued thousands of case studies of EJ in its interactive, open access database. These cases have been co-produced by academics, activists, and practitioners, all who contribute to the validation of cases (Martinez-Alier et al. 2014; Grafton et al. 2015). Participants in this session will also be invited to submit a relevant case to the EJAtlas, which will be incorporated into the database.

The type of topics we hope to discuss include (but are not limited to):

1) Climate-related impacts within 'sacrifice zones' or areas that, despite their social and ecological vulnerability, lack the political and economic support for adaptation investment due to chronic marginalization. Several examples: extreme temperatures and melting permafrost (eg. Shishmaref), drought hazards coupled with water and food insecurity (eg. Central Valley California), and rising tides and storm surges (eg. New Orleans).

2) Mal-adaptive or false solutions that divert or displace impacts to marginal groups (also called divergent adaptations) exacerbating the vulnerability of some while lessening the vulnerability of a privileged or politically-powerful group.

3) The non-mitigation of GHG-producing activities, including fossil fuel extraction, transport, and processing. Some examples include expansion of mountaintop coal mining, hydraulic fracking, drilling and pipeline construction, or ‘bomb trains.’

This session will be a round-table discussion between academics and practitioners on the co-production of climate justice knowledge – how it has been done in the past, what archetypal examples have stood out, the barriers to co-producing knowledge on CJ, and how to move towards a unified theory of CJ. This session will involve three university-affiliated academics and two representatives from NGOs working on CJ, each representing their own meaning of climate 'justice.' By providing examples from each panelist's own life experience in CJ, we will then open to the audience to discuss examples of CJ, the sometimes conflicting meaning of this concept, and how processes of co-production might support the movement of CJ. We hope that the atmosphere of this round table will facilitate meaningful exchange between attendees and invited presenters. All are welcome.


Type Details Minutes
Panelist Rachel Slocum School for International Training Graduate Institute 20
Panelist Tim DeChristopher Climate Disobedience Center 20
Panelist Ilarion Merculieff Global Center for Indigenous Leadership and Lifeways 20
Panelist Jean Carmalt CUNY - Graduate Center 20
Discussant Rebecca Hardin 20

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