Climatic Change

, Volume 133, Issue 3, pp 491–498 | Cite as

Climate justice, small island developing states & cultural loss

  • Alexa ZellentinEmail author


This contribution looks at those Small Island Developing States that are doomed to disappear due to anthropogenic climate change. The citizens of these states will not only lose their physical homeland but also their social structure and cultural community. The focus here is on cultural loss. While its subjective importance is easy to grasp, it is harder to see cultural loss as a matter of justice. This paper first presents an account of why cultural loss is often seen as merely unfortunate but not unjust. Against these worries, the paper argues that we have a right that no one threatens our social bases of self-respect and that societal cultures are one important base of self-respect. The discussion concludes that anthropogenic climate change affects peoples’ rights with regard to the cultural dimension and that therefore adaptation efforts ought to protect the social bases of self-respect of those climate refugees whose physical, political, and cultural existence is threatened by our inability to keep emissions below safe levels.


Anthropogenic Climate Change Primary Good Small Island Develop States Social Base Forced Migration 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Politics and International RelationsUniversity College DublinDublin 4Ireland

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