Climate Change, Disappearing Islands and thePerception of Climate Justice : A Content Analysis of the Perception of Climate Justice from thePerspective of Small Island States

University essay from Umeå universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: The objective of this thesis was to establish how, in an emerging era of sinking islands andincreasing environmental degradation, ideas concerning climate justice have been developedin pacific small island states. These ideas have been analysed from a framework of southernand justice theory and, hence, been put in comparison to the global framework of climatejustice and the notion that sovereign states, no matter location or historical circumstances, areleft alone to deal with the worst effects of climate change.The research questions used to achieve the objective were: what ideas of climate justiceare produced in Kiribati, Fiji and the Maldives; in what way do these ideas affect their local adaptation strategies and how can these ideas be understood in light of southern theory? Thedata consisted of three national policies from the countries of interest in this thesis – Kiribati,Fiji and the Maldives – and manifest each country’s approach to dealing with the impacts of achanging climate and, especially, rising seas. These were analysed through a qualitativecontent analysis where an abductive approach was used to establish the themes that guided theanalysis. The result was that ideas of climate justice in the three countries are affected by thechanging tides, both by nature and the international community, but differ depending onnational leadership. It was also found that the adaptation strategies, while being nationalpolicies, all emphasise the need for international solidarity if being able to solve the issue ofdisappearing islands. This is something that has yet to take place within the global frameworkof climate change, where the global North do not want to acknowledge any responsibility forthe fate of small island states but rather aids affected countries based on goodwill and not oflaw.

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