Political feasibility of 1.5°C societal transformations: the role of social justice

J.J. Patterson, Thomas Thaler, Matthew Hoffman, Sara Hughes, Eric Chu, A. Mert, D. Huitema, Sarah Burch, Andrew Jordan

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Constraining global climate change to 1.5°C is commonly understood to require urgent and deep societal transformations. Yet such transformations are not always viewed as politically feasible; finding ways to enhance the political feasibility of ambitious decarbonization trajectories is needed. This paper reviews the role of social justice as an organizing principle for politically feasible 1.5°C transformations. A social justice lens usefully focuses attention on 1) protecting vulnerable people from climate change impacts, 2) protecting people from disruptions of transformation, and 3) enhancing the process of envisioning and implementing an equitable post-carbon society. However, justice-focused arguments could also have unintended consequences, such as being deployed against climate action. Hence proactively engaging with social justice is critical in navigating 1.5°C societal transformations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Opinion in Environmental Sustainability
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


We would like to acknowledge the INOGOV network (EU COST Action: IS1309 ) which nearly all of the authors of this paper are part of. The paper also benefitted from early conversations within this network on climate change adaptation. James Patterson received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 659065 . The authors gratefully acknowledge The Netherlands Open University for providing funding to enable this paper to be made open access. Finally, we thank the organizers of this special issue on ‘1.5°C Climate Change and Social Transformation’.

FundersFunder number
Marie Sklodowska-Curie
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme659065


    • justice, equity, cities, subnational, transitions, climate change, Paris Agreement


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