Accepted Paper:

The moral climate of melting glaciers: Andean claims for justice at the Paris Climate Change Summit  
Noah Walker-Crawford (University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

After filing a lawsuit against a German utility over climate damages, a Peruvian farmer came to the UN summit in Paris to demand climate justice. By introducing a moral and experiential dimension into global debates, his claim undermines the scientific and scalar foundations of climate politics.

Paper long abstract:

In November 2015, the Peruvian farmer Saúl Luciano Lliuya filed a precedent-setting lawsuit against the German energy company RWE demanding that the firm take responsibility for its contribution to climate change and help reduce flood risk caused by melting glaciers in his Andean hometown. As his interpreter, I accompanied him in Germany and to the 2015 UN climate summit in Paris. While he received widespread resonance and support at the summit, Saúl's claim clashed with technical understandings of climate change in negotiations where experts have sought to apply scientific knowledge in the search for global solutions. Drawing on both situated knowledge of the Andean environment and transnational narratives, Saúl demands climate justice. This struggle seeks to move beyond technical debate to make climate change a moral issue of translocal relationality. Saúl aims to establish a direct link between his Andean lifeworld and RWE's CO2 emissions in Germany by holding the company legally responsible for climate disaster. This casts doubt on the scalar assumptions at the heart of scientific and UN discussions which might portray the Andean case as a minor detail of a global phenomenon. It invites us to consider how the production of scale - making climate change global - frames contemporary discourses in technical language and hinders moral claims for climate justice. A focus on how scale-making is being contested seeks to expand our understanding to encompass the multiple and entangled meanings of climate change.

Panel P12
Inequality and Climate Justice in an Overheated World