Environmental Citizenship and Individual Responsibility for Global Environmental Problems

Environmental Citizenship and Individual Responsibility for Global Environmental Problems

Convenors:

Laura García-Portela (University of Valencia) laura.garcia-portela@uv.es

Dr. Lieske Voget-Kleschin (University of Kiel) voget-kleschin@philsem.uni-kiel.de

Christian Baatz (University of Kiel) baatz@philsem.uni-kiel.de

 

In the wake of the international negotiations for a global climate treaty in the 1990’s, approaches to address climate change on the national and international level have been the focus of attention. Only recently did questions of individual responsibility for climate change become a major topic among philosophers. At the same time, environmental citizenship proposals have been brought up by political theorists as a new way of interpreting cosmopolitan citizenship. Additionally, sustainable consumption is broadly regarded as an approach to address different global environmental problems with a focus on individual behaviour. Recently, an important role is played by social practice theory accounts of sustainable consumption. This panel aims to bring together these approaches to give a holistic account of individual responsibilities to tackle global environmental problems.

 

The responsibilities of individuals are mostly discussed in the case of climate change. While it is usually accepted that individuals ought to lobby for the establishment of just institutions, the (additional) duty to reduce one’s GHG emissions is heavily disputed. Some proponents of the latter duty defend the claim that individual reductions yield morally relevant positive consequences, and others draw on so called non-causation arguments, such as the duty to maintain our integrity as moral agents or to display virtuous character traits. Finally, another group of authors bases duties to reduce emissions on the wrongness of contributing to, rather than causing, harmful outcomes. This debate reached a considerable level of sophistication but its preliminary results have hardly been transferred to other environmental problems. Moreover, it is by no means clear how the debate relates to accounts of cosmopolitan, environmental and ecological citizenship on the one hand and proposals regarding sustainable consumption on the other. Regarding the former, it could for example be asked what the debate about morally relevant positive consequences implies in regard to “a community of citizenship […] created by material relations of cause and effect” (Dobson, 2006) or how ecological citizenship as “shared personal commitment” of “ethically motivated citizens” (Seyfang, 2006) relates to non-causation arguments. The latter are important as sustainable consumption is broadly regarded as an approach to address different global environmental problems with a focus on individual behaviour. In this regard, social practice theory accounts of sustainable consumption highlight the social and material embeddedness of (consumption) behaviour, and the fact that such behaviour mostly occurs in a habitual manner. It thus challenges one of the main premises behind individual responsibility for climate change, namely that individuals GHG-related behaviour is based on conscious choice.

 

The panel seeks to further explore these different approaches regarding individuals’ relations towards global environmental problems (e.g. climate justice, citizenship accounts, social practice accounts) and especially their interrelations.

 

We strongly encourage scholars working on these topics to submit an extended abstract of 750 – 1000 words by 12 May to ec.irgep.mancept2017@gmail.com. Successful applicants will be notified no later than 9 June. Full working papers (about 6000 words) are due to a week before the workshop (4 September) to be circulated among participants in order to benefit the discussion and to allow for the preparation of a response.

 

Proposals should be prepared for blind review, so please enclose two documents. The first one should include the title and the text of the proposal with the literature used referenced. The second one should additionally include your complete name, current position, affiliation and e-mail address.