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Urban Climate Justice

Alan Flurry

A new book of essays published by the UGA Press explores the links between climate justice and urban justice. Edited by Jennifer L. Rice, Joshua Long and Anthony Levenda, Urban Climate Justice – Theory, Praxis, Resistance was published May 1.

Arguing that climate injustice is one of our most pressing urban problems, the volume explores the possibilities and challenges for more just urban futures under climate change. Whether characterized by displacement within cities through carbon gentrification or the increasing securitization of elite spaces for climate protection, climate justice and urban justice are intimately connected.

Rice, associate professor in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of geography, and her co-editors contribute an introduction setting the stage for the state of urban climate justice, as well as the book’s conclusion. Essays by 12 authors build theoretical tools for interrogating the root causes of climate change, as well as policy failures. They also highlight knowledge produced within communities already seeking transformative change and demonstrate meaningful lessons from activist groups working to address the socio-natural injustices caused by the impact of climate change.

The editors’ introduction outlines The Right to the Climate-Just City:

This edited volume considers who and what makes the just city in the era of climate change. Critical urban scholars have provided robust theoretical and empirical contributions for understanding social (in)justice in cities during the last several decades. At the same time, critical human-environment schol­ars have examined the uneven socioenvironmental impacts of climate change and associated policies on cities and urban residents. Yet better understanding the intersections of urban justice and climate justice requires more persistent and engaged study.

The book describes the state of urban climate justice theory and the current state of the art by linking both to ongoing processes. “The essays examine the intersection of urban inequality and climate policy, which is meaningful because the majority of scholars have either been specialists in urban geography, urban equality, and urban governance and haven’t thought too much about climate change, or they’ve been specialists in climate policy and climate governance and who don’t think explicitly about cities,” Rice said. “All of the authors here are looking at that intersection of cities and climate change.”

Justice-oriented climate research represents a burgeoning field increasingly populated by students from the disciplines of planning, geography, and sociology _ a primary audience for the book. While climate change affects people everywhere, urban and rural, and the book prioritizes the intensity of inequality and displacement challenges in cities exacerbated by climate change. It focuses on the systemic processes that either prevents addressing the problem, or continue to reproduce harm in different ways as people work to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.

“That’s what the essays as a group are doing, both assessing that – what are the intersections that give us these intractable problems – but also what are things we are doing that are having unfortunate effects that are reproducing those inequalities in different ways,” Rice said.

The book is part of the UGA Press series Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation.




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