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What if all we can see are the parts, and there is not a whole: elements and manifestations of the making of law of 'climate justice'

Kang, Hyo Yoon (2019) What if all we can see are the parts, and there is not a whole: elements and manifestations of the making of law of 'climate justice'. Law Text Culture, (23). ISSN 1322-9060. (KAR id:78457)


This essay discusses the meaning of 'climate justice' and the ways in which it is or is not materialised currently in climate change litigation. First I present the immateriality of the abstract concepts that make up this composite term: 'climate' and 'justice'. Yet the placing the words adjacent to one another seems to mobilise them into a novel composite vehicle of legal action. I trace how the idea of 'climate justice' hovers as an elusive idea around the concrete particularities of what can be known about 'climate' specifically in relation to 'justice'. These questions are probed in the setting and context of the Philippine Human Rights Commission's 2018 Inquiry into the Carbon Majors' (Chevron, Exxon, Shell, BP etc.) violation of human rights.

The aim here is mainly diagnostic: rather than taking legal doctrines of environmental or international human rights law as analytical materials, I use a legal materialist approach in order to try to make sense of what is concretely happening when an issue of a planetary scale of complexity is addressed and represented in a medium-sized moot court room. It helps to bring into vision the

specific modes by which formats, places and media are enlisted as constitutive elements in the becoming and stabilisation of the emerging legal matter of climate justice. My analysis depicts law acting as the medium for upscaling (an idea of human justice) and downscaling (of climate science) different knowledges into other frameworks of reality than their original ones: to that of the human narrative scale.

Item Type: Article
Projects: Legal Materiality Research Network Grant
Subjects: K Law
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council (
Depositing User: Hyo Yoon Kang
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2019 01:05 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2022 10:41 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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