Climate Blame Below The Glaciers - Challenges to Climate Justice in Peruvian Mountains and German Courts

University essay from Lunds universitet/Humanekologi

Abstract: This thesis investigates climate blame amongst a local population in the Northern Andes, Peru, and relates it to arguments on climate liability in German courtrooms. It does so on the backdrop of a climate lawsuit, which in 2017 was accepted by the Higher Regional Court in Hamm, Germany, filed by a Peruvian farmer against a German coal- and electricity company. Based on epistemological standpoints of cultural relativism and critical realism, and through ethnographic fieldwork in Huaraz, Peru and document analysis of the court case in Germany, it finds that notions of climate justice in these distinct places are accompanied and challenged by a range of other worldviews and principles. It describes in detail a range of perceptions of climate change causes within the local population, and finds that residence and livelihood strategies have an influence on perceptions of climate change. The worldviews and principles are contextualized and analysed through theories of climate justice, individual guilt, and collective responsibility which reveal that the majority of the local population blame themselves or their own community for climate change, which resembles arguments put forward by the coal mining company for exempting their climate liability. With the development of my own concept “diffuse responsibility”, I argue that the discourse of attributing blame for climate change to local livelihood management strategies creates guilt in individuals and conceals major emitters’ climate responsibility. However, notions of climate justice exist in both places as well, linked by the climate lawsuit from the Global South against a major emitter in the Global North. The thesis also offers a critique of the project of the lawsuit concerning community involvement, and a discussion of the potentials of climate litigation as a tool for climate justice.

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