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Jennifer Rubenstein: Democratic Emergency Claim-making about Climate Change

When:We 21-04-2021 15:15 - 17:00

Colloquium lecture by Jennifer Rubenstein (University of Virginia), organized by the Department of Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy

'It's an Emergency... Let's Deliberate!

Democratic Emergency Claim-making about Climate Change'

Over the past few years, myriad activist groups, scientists, governments, and other entities have claimed that climate change is an emergency. Yet while emergency claim-making about climate change is increasingly widespread and accepted, some critics have deemed it un-democratic because it squelches discussion and deliberation, invites dangerous forms of populism, and undermines just and equal relationships. Climate emergency claim-making can be undemocratic. But many of these allegations are inaccurate or exaggerated because they are based on an overly-stylized conception of emergency, which in turn is based on a narrow set of empirical cases centered on threats of violent conflict. While we should of course remain vigilant about possible threats that climate emergency claim-making poses to democratic political life, I argue in this talk that we should not focus too narrowly on this stylized account of emergency and its corresponding examples. Instead, we should also closely examine practices of climate emergency claim-making themselves, such as Extinction Rebellion’s demand for Citizen Climate Assemblies and climate emergency declarations by cities. If we do this a more democratic and hopeful picture of climate emergency politics— and perhaps even emergency politics more generally— comes into view.

Register to join

To join the talk from outside the university, please contact Charlotte Knowles.