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When climate justice goes wrong: maladaptation and deep co-production in transformative environmental science and policy

Forsyth, Tim ORCID: 0000-0001-7227-9475 and McDermott, Constance L. (2022) When climate justice goes wrong: maladaptation and deep co-production in transformative environmental science and policy. Political Geography, 98. ISSN 0962-6298

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2022.102691


Maladaptation to climate change is often portrayed as arising from the unjust exclusion of vulnerable people. In turn, analysts have proposed knowledge co-production with marginalized groups as a form of transformative climate justice. This paper argues instead that maladaptation arises from a much deeper exclusion based upon the projection of inappropriate understandings of risk and social identity that are treated as unquestioned circumstances of justice. Drawing on social studies of science, the paper argues that the focus on co-production as an intentional act of inclusion needs to be considered alongside “deep” or “reflexive” co-production, which instead refers to the non-cognitive and unavoidable simultaneous generation of knowledge and social order. These processes have linked visions of planetary justice with an understanding of climate risk based on global atmospheric change, and an assumption that community forms an antidote to individualism. The paper uses a discussion of adaptation in western Nepal to illustrate how such deep forms of co-production have significantly reduced understandings of “what” adaptation is for, and “who” is included. Maladaptation, therefore, is not simply unjust implementations of an essentially fair model of adaptation, but also the allocation of exclusionary visions of what and for whom adaptation is for. Debates about transformative climate justice therefore need to understand how their critiques of classical liberal justice generate exclusions of their own, and to engage vulnerable people in reframing, rather than just receiving, circumstances of justice. There is also a need to examine how these circumstances remain unchallenged within environmental science and policy.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 Elsevier Ltd.
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: J Political Science
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2022 14:03
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2024 02:09

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