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Achieving environmental justice

Achieving environmental justice: A cross-national analysis

Karen Bell
Copyright Date: 2014
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  • Book Info
    Achieving environmental justice
    Book Description:

    Environmental justice aspires to a healthy environment for all, as well as fair and inclusive processes of environmental decision-making. In order to develop successful strategies to achieve this, it is important to understand the factors that shape environmental justice outcomes. This optimistic, accessible and wide-ranging book contributes to this understanding by assessing the extent of, and reasons for, environmental justice/injustice in seven diverse countries - United States, Republic of Korea (South Korea), United Kingdom, Sweden, China, Bolivia and Cuba. Factors discussed include: race and class discrimination; citizen power; industrialisation processes; political-economic context; and the influence of dominant environmental discourses. In particular, the role of capitalism is critically explored. Based on over a hundred interviews with politicians, experts, activists and citizens of these countries, this is a compelling analysis aimed at all academics, policy-makers and campaigners who are engaged in thinking or action to address the most urgent environmental and social issues of our time.

    eISBN: 978-1-4473-0595-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of figures and tables
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. viii-ix)
  5. List of abbreviations
    (pp. x-x)
  6. ONE Introduction: fighting for humanity
    (pp. 1-14)

    Environmental justice (EJ) is relevant to the health and survival of all natural beings and systems, though it particularly emphasises how assaults on nature adversely affect humans. It incorporates many different aspects but is, fundamentally, about achieving a healthy environment for all, now and in the future. This book intends to contribute to debates regarding how this might be done, based on an analysis of the extent, form and causes of environmental justice and injustice, in seven very different countries – the United States, the Republic of Korea (South Korea), the United Kingdom, Sweden, China, Bolivia and Cuba.

    As well as...

  7. TWO The concept and measurement of environmental justice
    (pp. 15-32)

    Individually and collectively, people around the world have opposed environmental injustice for hundreds of years.¹ However, most commentators agree that the conceptualisation and use of the term ‘environmental justice’ first emerged in the 1980s, out of resistance to the siting of toxic facilities in black and other minority ethnic communities in the United States. A defining moment was the publication of research that reported that hazardous installations, such as toxic waste dumps, were often located in areas with higher percentages of ‘people of color’ (UCC, 1987). This study was followed by further investigations that confirmed that poor and minority ethnic...

  8. THREE The causes of environmental injustice
    (pp. 33-64)

    The environmental justice literature broadly offers five competing explanations for environmental injustice: discrimination; market dynamics; lack of citizen power; industrialisation; and capitalism. The wider environmental literature, which corresponds to the ‘substantive’ aspect of environmental justice, emphasises some of the same themes and, in addition, includes a further two causal themes, those of ‘individual behaviour or life-styles’ and ‘culture’. This chapter outlines the debates relating to each of these themes but focuses on capitalism, which, I argue, is a root determinant of environmental injustice.

    ‘Discrimination’, on the basis of income or race, is the explanation for environmental injustice favoured by black...

  9. FOUR ‘Killing yourself is no way to make a living’: environmental justice in the United States
    (pp. 65-78)

    No discussion of how to achieve environmental justice would be complete without reference to the United States, the birthplace of the concept and what has become known as the ‘environmental justice movement’. This chapter will critically assess the state of environmental justice in the United States, drawing on the relevant literature as well as my own observations and a number of semi-structured interviews carried out between 2008 and 2012.

    The US is typologised here as the most capitalist of the seven case-study countries examined in this book, primarily because it has no recent experience of extensive public ownership of the...

  10. FIVE ‘The world has been deceived’: environmental justice in the Republic of Korea (South Korea)
    (pp. 79-96)

    The concept of environmental justice came relatively recently to the Republic of Korea (henceforth, South Korea), developing out of mainstream environmentalism, which began in the 1980s (Lee, 2009). Unlike environmentalism in Europe and the US, which initially focused on the preservation of ecosystems, however, South Korea’s early environmentalism was concerned with the impact of pollution on human health. This initial recognition of the importance of the environment for humans made it easy to begin to think about environmental justice issues. In 1999, a landmark moment for environmental justice in South Korea occurred with the first Environmental Justice Forum, organised by...

  11. SIX ‘Regulation means bad’: environmental justice in the United Kingdom
    (pp. 97-118)

    The UK is located towards the middle of the capitalist/socialist spectrum used in this book because it is a mixed economy and has seen various phases of more, and less, free market economics. Although capitalism has been the bedrock of the UK economy since the 19th century, in 1945 the election of the Labour Party saw the adoption of more socialist leaning nationalisations of major industries, the creation of the welfare state and Keynesian economic policies. These changes broadly survived until a dramatic swing in the opposition direction occurred when Margaret Thatcher, the leader of the Conservative Party, was elected...

  12. SEVEN ‘We have always been close to nature’: environmental justice in Sweden
    (pp. 119-140)

    Sweden’s internationally recognised welfare system and progressive environmental policies should enable a high level of environmental justice but, as will be explained, this has not occurred to the extent that might be expected. While public discourse is very focused on environmental challenges, especially climate change, ‘environmental justice’, as a concept, has not been widely or intensively debated by Swedish policy makers, researchers, NGOs or the public. In particular, the distributional aspect of promoting justice among different groupswithinnational boundaries has not been emphasised in discussions regarding sustainability and is only rarely highlighted in political and planning discussions (Bradley et...

  13. EIGHT ‘The rich consume and the poor suffer the pollution’: environmental justice in the People’s Republic of China
    (pp. 141-160)

    China, as a nominally socialist country that is famously beset with serious environmental problems, appears to contradict the theory that it is capitalism that has produced the global ecological crisis. Some avoid this conclusion by arguing that China is now, or always has been, a capitalist country, so that there is no inconsistency. Whether or not this is the case is a contentious debate, attracting fiercely opposing views, but most would agree that China certainly no longer conforms to the standard socialist model. Following the revolution in 1949, the country initially pursued a typically socialist path but, since 1978, a...

  14. NINE ‘Recuperating all that we have lost and forgotten’: environmental justice in the Plurinational State of Bolivia (Bolivia)
    (pp. 161-180)

    Discussions of environmental justice in Bolivia tend not to focus on the siting of hazardous waste and processing facilities, as in the United States and Europe, but, rather, to emphasise issues such as access to land and water, the defence of traditional seeds, agricultural practices, infrastructure developments, the effects of resource extraction and international climate justice. While researchers and academics have not generally taken up the term,

    “Environmental justice is within the general discussions, the social movement meetings, the NGOs. There have been demands for compensation from people affected by industrial impacts but this is very marginal. People think more...

  15. TEN ‘Socialism creates a better opportunity’: environmental justice in Cuba
    (pp. 181-212)

    In 2006, Cuba earned international recognition as the only country in the world to have achieved sustainable development (WWF, 2006). This was based on the country’s relatively high indicators for social development, in conjunction with a small per capita Ecological Footprint. Sustainable development is not the same as environmental justice (Dobson, 1998), though, with its distributional and procedural dimensions. There have not been any previous studies that specifically look at environmental justice in Cuba,¹ but there has been a great deal of research that is relevant, examining Cuba’s natural environment, legislative framework, environmental policy, decision-making processes and social structures. These...

  16. ELEVEN Achieving environmental justice
    (pp. 213-236)

    In all the seven countries featured in this book, there were numerous people inventively and determinedly striving to achieve environmental justice. This has resulted in a number of notable outcomes. The United States has been in the forefront of conceptualising environmental justice, as well as developing relevant institutional frameworks and legislation; the Republic of Korea has been a model in terms of setting mandatory emissions targets, investing highly in environmental strategies and programmes and promoting eco-friendly products and green life-styles; the UK has set ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets; Sweden has for many years been a global leader in developing...

  17. Appendix 1
    (pp. 237-239)
  18. Appendix 2 Datasets
    (pp. 240-242)
  19. Appendix 3 Construction of the Environmental Justice Indicator Framework
    (pp. 243-246)
  20. References
    (pp. 247-294)
  21. Index
    (pp. 295-307)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 308-308)