Hope, Pessimism, and the Shape of a Just Climate Future

Dominic Lenzi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

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The urgency of climate change has never been greater, nor the moral case for responding to it more compelling. This review essay critically compares Darrel Moellendorf's Mobilizing Hope and Catriona McKinnon's Climate Change and Political Theory. Moellendorf's book defends the moral importance of poverty alleviation through sustainable economic growth and argues for a mass climate movement based on the promise of a more prosperous future. By contrast, McKinnon provides a political vocabulary to articulate the many faces of climate injustice, and to critically examine proposed policy solutions-notably including the indefinite pursuit of economic growth. While both find reasons to be hopeful, their wide-ranging accounts reflect different visions of what a just and sustainable future might look like. They reflect different understandings of sustainable development and the significance of environmental values; the scope of permissible climate activism; and the ethics of geoengineering. Building upon them, I argue in favor of a more pluralistic vision of a just climate future, one that is capable of speaking to the range of moral interests bearing upon the climate and biodiversity crises, and that supports sustainable development that is inclusive of diverse human-nature relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-361
Number of pages18
JournalEthics and International Affairs
Issue number3
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print/First online - 1 Dec 2023


  • climate activism
  • climate justice
  • degrowth
  • environmental values
  • geoengineering
  • green growth
  • hope
  • sustainable development
  • UT-Hybrid-D


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