Environmental justice analysis framework

Environmental justice
analysis framework
• Discussions of environmental justice often distinguish
procedural environmental justice from substantive
(or distributive) environmental justice.
• Procedural environmental justice:
• the opportunity for “all people regardless of race,
ethnicity, income, national origin or educational
level” to have “meaningful involvement” in
environmental decision-making.
• Two functions:
• Good in itself: similar to more general understanding
of democracy.
• Essential for substantive environmental justice
Environmental justice
analysis framework
• Substantive (or distributive) environmental justice:
Expectation that benefits and burdens are distributed fairly
among all players.
o In line with Rawl’s procedural justice which is one of the building
blocks of justice (e.g. equal opportunity, basic liberties, benefits to
• Logic:
o a chance to participate in decision-making associated with
environment (procedural environmental justice), is a form of
assurance that everyone has a chance to defend their
substantive environmental rights.
o As a result those who seek imposing unfair environmental
burdens (substantive environmental injustice) on people would
have harder time accomplishing their objective through a just
procedure vs. an unjust procedure.
Environmental justice
analysis framework
• Three main questions of distributive environmental
• What is the scope of beneficiaries of environmental
justice (e.g. “recipients”)?
• What benefits are distributed?
• What is the principle of distribution?
Beneficiaries of
environmental justice
• Definition of “community of justice”: Who are the
recipients of environmental justice?
• Considerations:
• Should our definition be anthropocentric (all humans)
or non-anthropocentric (humans and other sentient
• Should our definition be intergenerational (current
and future generations) or merely intragenerational
(current generation only), and
• Should our definition be international (all people or all
nation-states) or merely domestic (one nation-state).
Beneficiaries of
environmental justice
• Historically the environmental justice consideration in
the high income countries have been dominated by
narrow definitions of environmental justice
• For instance, in the US the initial focus of
environmental justice movement has been on current
US citizens
• This is reflected in environmental legislation
• More recent definitions both in the US and other
countries started including the citizens of other states
and future generations.
Benefits to be distributed
• Historically, in high income countries
the focus was on the distribution of
• For instance, in the US the focus was
“environmental hazards”, “toxics” or
• Argument: the distribution of
environmental burdens is not fair
since certain social groups (low
income & ethnic minorities) are
more likely to be exposed to
environmental hazards.
• For example
o US: Long history of research shows correlation
between low income and pollution (ex. Cancer
o U.K. found that “66% of carcinogen emissions
are in the most deprived 10% of [local
authority] wards” (Friends of the Earth 2001).
Benefits to be distributed
• Recent elaboration of the idea of environmental justice:
• Shift of the focus on a more general idea of
environmental quality and ability to experience quality
• For instance, the idea of burdens assumes a dichotomy
• Air pollution is a burden because clean air is a benefit,
• The focus of the earlier idea of burdens is on specific
basic environmental goods undermined by
environmental hazards (e.g. clean air, clean water,
uncontaminated land)
• The new focus emphasizes the importance of general
environmental quality (such as green spaces,
countryside, etc.).
Principles of distribution
• Three principles of distribution:
• Equality principle;
• The emphasis of early understanding of
environmental justice is on unequal distribution of
pollution where
• low income and minority communities carried “a
disproportionate burden from this type of health
threat”, therefore,
• This burden should be should be distributed equally.
Principles of distribution
• Equality plus a guaranteed standard principle;
• The equality principle emphasized the importance of
equal distribution of “bads”
• With time this understanding of environmental justice
shifted its focus on environmental justice as basic
right for environmental goods beneficial for health
• Equal distribution of pollution is no longer sufficient
for environmental justice,
• It is important that the pollution is reduced to zero
levels and
• Access to quality environment should be distributed
as basic right
Principles of distribution
• A guaranteed minimum with variation above that
minimum according to personal income and
spending choices.
• Further elaboration of understanding of
environmental right assumes that not everybody has
“equal” access to quality environment
• Not every location has equally quality environments
and not everyone can afford living in such
• However, even the least desirable locations should
meet certain minimum standards
Globalization and
environmental justice
• Some of the problems of environmental justice
concerns associated with the process of
• At the center of public discourse:
• Problems linked to the distribution of environmental
burdens and benefits and associated with global
environmental problems (e.g. global climate
• These are the problems you are most likely to name if
I ask you to identify some of such problem
• Just to refresh your memory the features of the
problem of global climate change
Globalization and
environmental justice
• Industrial countries are the major
contributors to the problem and the
major beneficiaries
• They enjoy the socio-economic
benefits of industrial development
and economic growth:
o Pollution is distributed globally
o Developed countries have better chance to
deal with changing environment
o For instance, easier for them to relocate
(compare Florida & Bangladesh),
o Better access to technological solutions (e.g.
improved crop varieties (R&D) or irrigation
Bangladesh, sea
levels rise scenarios
Globalization and
environmental justice
• Disproportionally distributed negative environmental effects
• we talked about development geography’s view on
development in the context of environmental migration.
• Those countries that were initially disadvantaged are the
ones to be affected the most by global climate change
(e.g. sub-Saharan Africa)
• Some of the common problems of global climate change
that severely affect or will affect disadvantaged countries:
o Increase in vector diseases
o Rise of sea levels
o Change in precipitation patterns (regions that are already
experience problems with draughts are the once that will be
affected the most)
o flooding, desertification and extreme storms
Globalization and
environmental justice
• Overall we can summarize these negative effects at
several key areas affecting basic human rights:
• health,
• food security,
• poverty,
• political instability
Globalization and
environmental justice
• Less discussed problems of globalization in the context
of environmental justice:
• The problems that are similarly important and
recognized by experts, yet less commonly discussed in
general public discourse are associated with general
idea of footprints
• In the nutshell the idea of ecological footprint is
intimately linked to the idea of ecosystem’s carrying
capacity and
• could be defined in simple terms as:
o “the amount of the environment necessary to produce the
goods and services [produce food and assimilate waste]
necessary to support a particular lifestyle” (WWF)
Globalization and
environmental justice
• Similar to the idea of banking countries in respect to their
consumption patters could be viewed in terms of ecology running
deficit, being neutral or running surplus
• Although different maps exist (here few countries have sustainable
consumption levels) all countries would suggest that high income
countries have unsustainable consumption
Globalization and
environmental justice
• The footprints idea suggest that developed countries
tend to be net negative and rely on additional
resources extracted from other parts of the world
• These are typically resources dependent countries
(often low income)
• This consumption benefits high income countries, but
often is a burden for the low income countries
• may seem counterintuitive, because these low income
countries should benefit from selling their resources. But
Globalization and
environmental justice
• the reality is that due to various reasons – including the
corrupted governance system and/or existing
economic structure (only resource sectors are
developed), the associated problems is a burden to
general public, while benefits is distributed among few
• Few environmental justice problems that stay below
the radar of wider public discourse, while is a serious
problems (NOTE: these problems primarily
concentrated in low income regions of the world)
• Bellow examples are adopted from: “The world’s top 10
battles for environmental justice” COSMOS
Globalization and
environmental justice
• Renewable energy conflicts (31 wind & 326 water
infrastructure conflicts)
• Competition at the area of renewable energy drives mega
projects like Narmada mega dam in India and mega wind
projects in Mexico, Kenya, India are triggering conflicts.
Globalization and environmental justice
• Land grabbing – 600+ conflicts
• Global need for palm oil trigger a land-grabbing surge for
plantations and threatens livelihoods of communities.
o half of all packaged products sold in the supermarket contains palm oil.
• Palm oil plantations:
o replace food crops, deprive farmers from their land, increase slave labour, cause
environmental destruction like deforestation, water pollution, infertile soil and fires.
Globalization and environmental justice
• Mega-mining – 270 conflicts
• New technologies, highly polluting chemicals and massive
amounts of water accompany mega-mining expansion in
Latin America and Western Africa affecting the livelihoods
of locals.
• Examples: bauxite or iron in Guinea, gold in Burkina
Faso, Senegal and Ghana.
Globalization and environmental justice
• Fossil fuels – 178 conflicts
• New extraction methods and locations due to challenges of
industry & demand for resources.
• EX: oil sand drilling and fracking, Arctic and deep water drilling.
• Problems: contamination of fresh water supplies, devastation of
marine systems, seismic activity and global warming.
Globalization and environmental justice
• Trash economy – 126 conflicts
Globalization and environmental justice
• Sand mafias – 82 conflicts
• Illegal sand mining has ten times more economic value
than all wildlife crime.
• The causes of the surge in demand for sand:
o booming building industry
o land expansion
o mining of ilmenite (titanium production) and zircon at beaches.
Globalization and environmental justice
• Fighting for fish – 77 conflicts
• The industrialization of fishing since the 1950s is causing stock
collapses and extinctions.
• This has negative effect on small-scale fishing communities
• Some examples are the ones by intensive fish farms in
Turkey or in Chile, big port projects in India and polluting
industries in Ecuador.
Globalization and environmental justice
• Pesticide popularity – 23 conflicts
• Proven negative effects of pesticides on health and
• Yet, industrial farming requires intensive use of
pesticides in developing countries.

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