Special Issue "Climate Change and Human Reaction: Transformation, Governance, Ethics, Law"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Sustainability and Applications".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Felix Ekardt
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Rostock University, Rostock, Germany
Interests: Sustainability/ Environmental policy, global, European, national and regional governance; process of transformation and social learning towards more sustainability; Theory of justice/ human rights on international, European and national level; Legal issues in sustainability law, environmental law, economic law, constitutional law, European law and international law.
Prof. Dr. Anita Engels
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Interests: climate social science, humanities, climate ethics, climate law, climate governance, fossil fuels, Paris Agreement, behavioural change

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sustainability, i.e., the demand for long-term and globally practicable lifestyles and economies, is increasingly being understood as the central challenge of our time. This is especially true with regard to climate change. Undoubtedly, natural scientific and technical knowledge of problem relationships in dealing with nature, resources, and climate is important. However, technical change does not happen on its own. In addition, the ecological challenges are simply too great not to aim for a behavioral change, including structural change as well as technology, given the—legally binding—1.5 degrees limit in Article 2 of the Paris Agreement that may require global zero emissions in all sectors in two or three decades. This is the starting point of this Special Issue on climate change and human reaction. We want to investigate, for example, the conditions for individual and social change, the means or governance instruments for zero fossil fuels in all sectors and drastically reduced livestock emissions in 2040 or 2050, as well as normative (ethical and legal) issues. Transdisciplinary approaches should play a special role, i.e., approaches that do not operate from disciplinary boundaries but from questions of content without excessive subordination to established disciplinary dogmas. It is important to the guest editors that the Special Issue stands for pluralism and expressly gives room to uncomfortable, unexpected, and heterodox views and methods. We invite qualitative as well as quantitative studies that adhere to high quality standards and provide plausible justifications of their methodological choices and study design.

Prof. Dr. Felix Ekardt
Prof. Dr. Anita Engels
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • climate social science
  • humanities
  • climate ethics
  • climate law
  • climate governance
  • fossil fuels
  • Paris Agreement
  • behavioral change

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Article
Collective Responsibility in the Cooperative Governance of Climate Change
Sustainability 2021, 13(8), 4363; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13084363 - 14 Apr 2021
Viewed by 406
Abstract
This paper sets out a proposal for framing collective responsibility as a central element within the cooperative governance of climate change. It begins by reconstructing the analysis of climate change as a Tragedy of the Commons in the economic literature and as a [...] Read more.
This paper sets out a proposal for framing collective responsibility as a central element within the cooperative governance of climate change. It begins by reconstructing the analysis of climate change as a Tragedy of the Commons in the economic literature and as a Problem of Many Hands in the ethical literature. Both formalizations are shown to represent dilemmatic situations where an individual has no rational incentive to prevent the climate crisis and no moral requirement to be held responsible for contributing to it. Traditionally both dilemmas have been thought to be solvable only through a vertical structure of decision-making. Where contemporary research in political economy has undergone a “governance revolution”, showing how horizontal networks of public, private, and civil society actors can play an important role in the management of the climate crisis, little research has been carried out in the ethical field on how to secure accountability and responsibility within such a cooperative structure of social agency. Therefore, this paper contributes by individuating some conditions for designing responsible and accountable governance processes in the management of climate change. It concludes by claiming that climate change is addressable only insofar as we transition from a morality based on individual responsibility to a new conception of morality based on our co-responsibility for preventing the climate crisis. Full article
Article
Sustainable Stories: Managing Climate Change with Literature
Sustainability 2021, 13(7), 4049; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13074049 - 06 Apr 2021
Viewed by 483
Abstract
Literary and cultural texts are essential in shaping emotional and intellectual dispositions toward the human potential for a sustainable transformation of society. Due to its appeal to the human imagination and human empathy, literature can enable readers for sophisticated understandings of social and [...] Read more.
Literary and cultural texts are essential in shaping emotional and intellectual dispositions toward the human potential for a sustainable transformation of society. Due to its appeal to the human imagination and human empathy, literature can enable readers for sophisticated understandings of social and ecological justice. An overabundance of catastrophic near future scenarios largely prevents imagining the necessary transition toward a socially responsible and ecologically mindful future as a non-violent and non-disastrous process. The paper argues that transition stories that narrate the rebuilding of the world in the midst of crisis are much better instruments in bringing about a human “mindshift” (Göpel) than disaster stories. Transition stories, among them the Parable novels by Octavia Butler and Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future (2020), offer feasible ideas about how to orchestrate economic and social change. The analysis of recent American, Canadian, British, and German near future novels—both adult and young adult fictions—sheds light on those aspects best suited for effecting behavioral change in recipients’ minds: exemplary ecologically sustainable characters and actions, companion quests, cooperative communities, sources of epistemological innovation and spiritual resilience, and an ethics and aesthetics of repair. Full article
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Article
Challenging the Levels: The Catholic Church as a Multi-Level Actor in the Transition to a Climate-Compatible Society
Sustainability 2021, 13(7), 3770; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13073770 - 29 Mar 2021
Viewed by 293
Abstract
Climate compatibility is a cornerstone in the ecological transformation of modern society. In order to achieve sustainable development in all areas of society, numerous social actors must participate. This article examines the potential for the Catholic Church in German-speaking countries to contribute to [...] Read more.
Climate compatibility is a cornerstone in the ecological transformation of modern society. In order to achieve sustainable development in all areas of society, numerous social actors must participate. This article examines the potential for the Catholic Church in German-speaking countries to contribute to such change. To this end, in contrast to most current studies, the Church is conceptualized as a multi-level actor instead of focusing only on the top of the hierarchy. Case studies are used to explore how various Church actors in different fields of social action evoke ecological awareness among members and non-members alike or participate in changing social structures. Full article
Article
Does Information about Personal Emissions of Carbon Dioxide Improve Individual Environmental Friendliness? A Survey Experiment
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 2284; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042284 - 20 Feb 2021
Viewed by 608
Abstract
The purpose of this study is to identify factors that can change the environmental friendliness of individuals in the context of climate change issues in terms of values, beliefs, controllability, concern, attitude, intention, and behavior through a survey experiment, and to test the [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study is to identify factors that can change the environmental friendliness of individuals in the context of climate change issues in terms of values, beliefs, controllability, concern, attitude, intention, and behavior through a survey experiment, and to test the hypothesis that providing information about the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions attributable to an individual with its threshold value motivates him/her to reduce that amount using statistical analyses (the Mann–Whitney test) and multivariate regressions (the ordered logit model). It is crucial to change the behavior of individuals as well as organizations to reduce the emissions of CO2 for solving climate change issues, because the aggregate amount of individual CO2 emissions is too large to ignore. We conducted a survey experiment to detect factors affecting the environmental friendliness of individuals. Subjects of the experiment were 102 students at Shiga University in Japan. They were randomly provided with communication opportunities, information about individual or group CO2 emissions, and information about their threshold value. The finding is that provision of information about the amount of individual and group CO2 emissions may be able to improve that person’s environmental friendliness in terms of values, beliefs, concern, attitude, intention, and behavior. Full article
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Article
Human Rights and Precautionary Principle: Limits to Geoengineering, SRM, and IPCC Scenarios
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 8858; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12218858 - 25 Oct 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1099
Abstract
: Most scenarios on instruments limiting global warming in line with the 1.5 °C temperature limit of the Paris Agreement rely on overshooting the emissions threshold, thus requiring the application of negative emission technologies later on. Subsequently, the debate on carbon dioxide removal [...] Read more.
: Most scenarios on instruments limiting global warming in line with the 1.5 °C temperature limit of the Paris Agreement rely on overshooting the emissions threshold, thus requiring the application of negative emission technologies later on. Subsequently, the debate on carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and solar radiation management (SRM) (frequently subsumed under “geoengineering”) has been reinforced. Yet, it does not determine normatively whether those are legally valid approaches to climate protection. After taking a closer look at the scope of climate scenarios and SRM methods compiling current research and opinions on SRM, this paper analyses the feasibility of geoengineering and of SRM in particular under international law. It will be shown that from the perspective of human rights, the Paris Agreement, and precautionary principle the phasing-out of fossil fuels and the reduction in consumption of livestock products as well as nature-based approaches such as sustainable—and thus climate and biodiversity-smart—forest, peatland, and agricultural management strongly prevail before geoengineering and atmospheric SRM measures in particular. However, as all of the atmospheric SRM methods are in their development phase, governance options to effectively frame further exploration of SRM technologies are proposed, maintaining that respective technologies thus far are not a viable means of climate protection. Full article
Article
Influencing Factors of Public Participation in Meteorological Disaster Prevention and Mitigation
Sustainability 2020, 12(8), 3108; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12083108 - 13 Apr 2020
Viewed by 651
Abstract
Meteorological disasters have become a global challenge due to the increased prevalence and severity, and China is among the most affected countries. In this paper, based on a randomized survey in China, the authors employed a structural equation model to study the influencing [...] Read more.
Meteorological disasters have become a global challenge due to the increased prevalence and severity, and China is among the most affected countries. In this paper, based on a randomized survey in China, the authors employed a structural equation model to study the influencing factors of public participation in meteorological disaster prevention and mitigation (MDPM). It is found that the behavior of the government has a significant positive influence, with an influencing coefficient of 0.494 on the public’s willingness to participate in MDPM. The degree of community involvement also has a significant positive influence on the public’s willingness, with an influencing coefficient of 0.636. The public’s attention to meteorological events and ability to participate have less impact on their participation in MDPM, with coefficients of 0.057 and 0.075, respectively. The information acquisition has a significant negative impact, with an influencing coefficient of −0.084. There is a strong positive covariation between community participation and governmental behavior, with a covariance coefficient of 0.27, indicating that the two factors promote each other and together boost the public’s willingness to participate in MDPM. Full article
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