Call for papers – A Trans-Atlantic Dialogue on Environmental Justice

January 4, 2022 - Categorised in: -

2022 Toronto Conference on Earth System Governance (21-23 October 2022)

Conference stream: Justice and Allocation.

Panel convenors: Brendan Coolsaet and Stacia Ryder

Contemporary environmental justice studies are at a crossroads. On the one hand, the ‘universalisation’ of the environmental justice framework has helped make sense of the intertwining of environment and social inequality in different contexts and for different environmental problems beyond those of the origins (Sikor and Newell 2014). While it has become rather common for studying southern environmentalism (eg. Martinez-Alier et al 2016), an environmental justice community is now also slowly emerging in Europe. This can be observed, for example, in the increasing adoption of ‘climate justice’ by large parts of the European environmental movement (Cassegård & Thörn 2017) as well as through the study of issues and concepts (eg. energy justice, just transition, planetary justice) established and developed primarily through European scholarship (eg. Jenkins et al. 2020; McCauley & Heffron 2018; Biermann & Kalfagianni 2020). This extension to new places and new things, however, may not always be without risk. Though both energy and climate justice scholarship parallel common environmental justice concerns (eg. distributive, procedural, recognition, capabilities), European energy and environmental justice literature has a tendency of glossing over the roots of environmental justice as a social movement driven primarily by racial minorities and indigenous movements in the US, or has actively tried to distance itself from these roots (e.g. Jenkins 2018, Laigle and Oehler 2004).

At the same time, critical approaches have suggested that the ‘traditional’ US approach to studying environmental justice may itself be in need of an overhaul. These ‘critical environmental justice studies’ suggest that in their present form, traditional US conceptualizations of environmental justice may be insufficient or ill-suited for understanding injustice in different contexts, and call into question the universality, the framings and the concepts underpinning environmental justice scholarship (eg. Holifield, Porter, and Walker 2009; Sikor and Newell 2014; Pellow 2017). Others have argued that the environmental justice framework is an example of an hegemonic conceptualization that erodes and marginalises non-Western approaches to time, space and nature, hence serving as a mechanism of power itself (McGregor 2010; Pascoe et al. 2019; Alvarez and Coolsaet 2020; Parsons et al. 2021). At present, most of these discussions have aligned Western/non-Western approaches to justice across the lines of colonial geography while less frequently interrogating how justice might be understood in non-Western communities that are geographically embedded within the Global North. Exceptions to this include work on indigenous understandings of environmental and climate justice in the US (Hoover 2018; Whyte 2011, 2016), and the study of traditional rituals in resisting energy injustice in Georgia (Antadze and Gujaraidze 2021), for example.

By organising a ‘trans-atlantic dialogue’ on environmental justice, this panel hence aims to explore the tension that may exist between trying to adapt to new environmental justice contexts, and at the same time acknowledging and/or expanding upon the origins of environmental justice. We seek empirically or theoretically framed works that engage with topics such as, but not limited to

  • local explorations of environmental justice, particularly in Europe;
  • innovative strategies to resist environmental injustices;
  • intersectionality and contemporary environmental justice activism;
  • environmental justice activism or scholarship explicitly developing outside of the scope of US-style environmental justice.

Importantly, proposed papers should critically engage with the use of the environmental justice framework. They should seek to discuss how their original findings challenge and/or expand upon contemporary environmental justice scholarship, by explicitly situating the work in the broader field and/or by discussing the positionality of its authors for example.


If you are interested in contributing a paper to this session, please send your abstract (400 words or less) to Brendan Coolsaet ( and Stacia Ryder ( as soon as possible but no later than the 28th of January 2022 11th of February 2022 (deadline extended). We will finalise the panel and notify participants by the 1st of February. We will submit abstracts of selected papers together with the panel proposal through the conference portal.

About us

  • Brendan Coolsaet is Associate Professor of environmental politics at ESPOL, the European School of Political and Social Sciences at Lille Catholic University (France), and a Research Fellow with the Global Environmental Justice group at the University of East Anglia (UK). He works on environmental justice, biodiversity conservation and food politics. He is the author of the recently published Environmental Justice: Key Issues (Routledge).
  • Stacia Ryder is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Geography Department at the University of Exeter and a Visiting Fellow at Anglia Ruskin University’s Global Sustainability Institute. She works on power, environmental and climate justice and community engagement. She is the lead editor of the recently published Environmental Justice in the Anthropocene From (Un)Just Presents to Just Futures (Routledge).


Álvarez, L. and Coolsaet, B. 2020. Decolonizing Environmental Justice Studies: A Latin American Perspective, Capitalism Nature Socialism 31(2): 50-69.

Antadze, N. and Gujaraidze, K., 2021. The role of traditional rituals in resisting energy injustice: The case of hydropower developments in Svaneti, Georgia. Energy Research & Social Science, 79, p.102152.

Biermann, F., & Kalfagianni, A. (2020). Planetary justice: a research framework. Earth System Governance, 6, 100049.

Cassegård, C., & Thörn, H. (2017). Climate justice, equity and movement mobilization. In Climate Action in a Globalizing World (pp. 32-56). Routledge.

Holifield, R., Porter, M. and Walker, G. 2009. Spaces of environmental justice: Frameworks for critical engagement. Antipode 41(4): 591-612.

Hoover, E., 2018. Environmental reproductive justice: intersections in an American Indian community impacted by environmental contamination. Environmental Sociology, 4(1), pp.8-21.

Jenkins, K. (2018) Setting energy justice apart from the crowd: Lessons from environmental and climate justice. Energy Research and Social Science. pp. 117–121. doi: 10.1016/j.erss.2017.11.015.

Jenkins, K. E. H. et al. (2020) The methodologies, geographies, and technologies of energy justice: A systematic and comprehensive review. Environmental Research Letters. doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/abd78c.

Laigle, L. and Oehler, V. 2004. Les enjeux sociaux et environnementaux du développement urbain : la question des inégalités écologiques, Final Report, Centre Scientifique et Technique du Bâtiment, Paris.

Martinez-Alier, J., Temper, L., Del Bene, D., & Scheidel, A. (2016). Is there a global environmental justice movement?. The Journal of Peasant Studies, 43(3), 731-755.

McCauley, D., & Heffron, R. (2018). Just transition: Integrating climate, energy and environmental justice. Energy Policy, 119, 1-7.

Pellow, D.N. 2017. What is critical environmental justice? John Wiley & Sons.

Sikor, T., and Newell, P. (2014). Globalizing Environmental Justice? Geoforum 54: 151–157.

Whyte, K. P. 2011. The recognition dimensions of environmental justice in Indian country. Environmental Justice, 4(4), pp. 199–205. doi: 10.1089/env.2011.0036.

Whyte, K.P., 2016. Is it colonial déjà vu? Indigenous peoples and climate injustice. In Humanities for the Environment (pp. 102-119). Routledge.

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