Climatic Change

, Volume 133, Issue 3, pp 535–549 | Cite as

Constructions of climate justice in German, Indian and US media

  • Andreas SchmidtEmail author
  • Mike S. Schäfer


Collective action on climate change is easier when the involved actors share an understanding of climate justice, that is, if they agree on the morally right way of dealing with the issue. Such understandings have been shown to vary, however. Based on German, Indian and US media coverage, we develop a typology of different constructions of climate justice. The five patterns we identify differ considerably across several dimensions, including the valuation of certain goods and rights, the definition of moral in-groups, and the basic principles for climate governance. These patterns can be found in all three countries, but their importance varies between them. The US debate is especially conflictive, with some actors emphasizing freedom from state intervention and others demanding provident political action. Although the positions in Germany and India are less divergent, there is also no agreement on how to address climate change in a just way in these countries. In particular, the conflict between global and intergenerational justice demands – reflecting the nature of climate change – and the enduring relevance of traditional conceptions focusing on contemporary and national communities are intricate.


Climate Policy Climate Justice Societal Institution Climate Governance International Solidarity 
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.



The research presented here was supported by the Cluster of Excellence ‘CliSAP’ (EXC177), Universität Hamburg, funded through the German Research Foundation (DFG) and by funds from the Center for a Sustainable University (University of Hamburg). We thank Tjado Barsuhn for his assistance with several steps of the project. Moreover, we are grateful for constructive comments by Gregor Betz and three anonymous reviewers.

Supplementary material

10584_2015_1488_MOESM1_ESM.docx (256 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 256 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.German Aeorspace Center (DLR), Project Management AgencyBonnGermany
  2. 2.University of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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