Past Event

Douglas Chalmers Lectureship by Rebecca Marwege

December 7, 2023
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Philosophy Hall, 1150 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY 10027 202A

The Trilemma of Climate Justice – Democracy, National Sovereignty, and Global Climate Action

Addressing climate change requires drastic economic change, and fast, concerted political action. Climate change also raises questions about how to define environmental and climate justice, and how to center marginalized voices in any political and economic transition. Rebecca Marwege’s lecture develops the concept of a “trifecta of climate justice,” which theorizes that in the global context, the three paradigms that are necessary to achieve climate justice and overcome environmental domination are democracy, national sovereignty, and global climate action. However, each of these paradigms is riddled with tensions and trade-offs. Building on critical theory, Rebecca argues that pursuing an immanent critique of these paradigms allows us to identify the benefits of each, and points to the necessity of a reflexive democratically embedded and scientifically informed global response, which does not infringe on national sovereignty and democracy but reinforces it. This approach is crucial to overcome a reform-revolution dichotomy in public debates around climate action and recognize the importance of centering marginalized voices in any pursuit of political change.

Rebecca Marwege is a PhD Candidate in Political Science, specializing in political theory and environmental politics. Prior to coming to Columbia, she completed a Master of Science in Political Theory at the London School of Economics and a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations at King’s College London. In a book project, titled Climate Justice, Movements and Political Change, Rebecca theorizes how environmental and climate movements contribute to defining the global policy agenda and the global discourse of climate justice. Beyond her dissertation research, Rebecca serves as the junior director of the Columbia Climate School Earth Network on Decarbonization, Climate Resilience and Climate Justice. Together with her colleagues Joerg Schaefer and Nikhar Gaikwad, she is currently co-editing a book which draws on the expertise represented in the network to discuss how climate justice can be centered within and across the different disciplines.

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Contact Information

Emeritus Professors in Columbia (EPIC)
(212) 854-8083