May 12 CfP Deadline: “Environmental Citizenship and Individual Responsibility for Global Environmental Problems (EC.IRGEP)”

At Manchester Centre for Political Theory (MANCEPT)



Laura García-Portela (University of Valencia)
Dr. Lieske Voget-Kleschin (University of Kiel)
Christian Baatz (University of Kiel)

In the wake of the international negotiations for a global climate treaty in the 1990’s, approaches to address climate change on the national and international level have been the focus of attention. Only recently did questions of individual responsibility for climate change become a major topic among philosophers. At the same time, environmental citizenship proposals have been brought up by political theorists as a new way of interpreting cosmopolitan citizenship (Harris, 2010; Dobson, 2006). Additionally, sustainable consumption is broadly regarded as an approach to address different global environmental problems with a focus on individual behaviour. Recently, an important role is played by social practice theory accounts of sustainable consumption. This panel aims to bring together these approaches to give a holistic account of individual responsibilities to tackle global environmental problems.

The responsibilities of individuals are mostly discussed in the case of climate change (for an overview of this debate see Fragnière, 2016). That individuals have some responsibility is hardly disputed and the debate quickly turned to what individuals are responsible for: are there duties to work towards just institutions that address the problem at the collective level or are individuals (also) obligated to reduce emissions themselves? A central dispute is whether or not individual reductions of emissions result in morally relevant positive consequences. While this is disputed by some (Sinnott-Armstrong, 2006; Cripps, 2013; Maltais, 2013), others answer the question in the affirmative (Kagan, 2011; Hiller, 2011; Lawford-Smith, 2016) and conclude that individuals ought to reduce their GHG emissions. Yet others defend duties to reduce emissions with reference to so called non-causation arguments, such as the duty to maintain our integrity as moral agents (Glover, 1975; Hordequin, 2011) or to display virtuous character traits (Jamieson, 2010). Finally, another group of authors bases such duties on the wrongness of contributing to, rather than causing, harmful outcomes (Raterman, 2012; Baatz, 2014).

This debate reached a considerable level of sophistication but its preliminary results have hardly been transferred to other environmental problems. Moreover, it is by no means clear how the debate relates to accounts of cosmopolitan, environmental and ecological citizenship on the one hand and proposals regarding sustainable consumption on the other. Regarding the former, it could for example be asked what the debate about morally relevant positive consequences implies in regard to “a community of citizenship […] created by material relations of cause and effect” (Dobson, 2006) or how ecological citizenship as “shared personal commitment” of “ethically motivated citizens” (Seyfang, 2006) relates to non-causation arguments. The latter are important as sustainable consumption is broadly regarded as an approach to address different global environmental problems with a focus on individual behaviour. In this regard, social practice theory accounts of sustainable consumption highlight the social and material embeddedness of (consumption) behaviour (Shove et al., 2012; Welch & Warde, 2015), and the fact that such behaviour mostly occurs in a habitual manner (Shove, 2012; Warde, 2014). It thus challenges one of the main premises behind individual responsibility for climate change, namely that individuals GHG-related behaviour is based on conscious choice.

The panel seeks to further explore these different approaches regarding individuals’ relations towards global environmental problems (e.g. climate justice, citizenship accounts, social practice accounts) and especially their interrelations. It is part of the MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory, an annual conference in political theory, organised under the auspices of the Manchester Centre for Political Theory.

We strongly encourage scholars working on these topics to submit an extended abstract of 700 - 1000 words by 12 May to Successful applicants will be notified no later than 9 June. Full working papers (about 6000 words) are due to a week before the workshop (4 September) to be circulated among participants in order to benefit the discussion and to allow for the preparation of a response.

 Proposals should be prepared for blind review, so please enclose two documents. The first one should include the title and the text of the proposal with the literature used referenced. The second one should additionally include your complete name, current position, affiliation and e-mail address.

Registration for the conference will open in May. Fees are £230 for academics and £135.00 for graduate students and retirees.  Please notice that he organization offers a bursary for graduate and retirees applicants, whose deadline will be the 16th June.


Aufrecht, M. (2011). Climate Change and Structural Emissions: Moral Obligations at the Individual Level. International Journal of Applied Philosophy, 25(2), 201–213.

Baatz, C. (2014). Climate change and individual duties to reduce GHG emissions. Ethics, Policy & Environment, 17(1), 1–19. 6

Cripps, E. (2013). Climate change and the moral agent: individual duties in an independent world. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dobson, Andrew (2006): Ecological citizenship. A Defence. In: Environmental Politics 15 (3), S. 447–451.

Fragnière, A. (2016). Climate change and individual duties. WIREs Clim Change, 7(6), 798–814.

Glover, J. (1975). It Makes no Difference Whether or Not I Do It. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes, 49(1975), 171–190.

Harris, P. (2010). World Ethics and Climate Change: From International to Global Justice. Edinburgh: Edinburgh Studies in World Ethics.

Hiller, A. (2011). Climate change and individual responsibility. The Monist, 94(3), 349–368.

Hourdequin, M. (2010). Climate, Collective Action and Individual Ethical Obligations. Environmental Values, 19(4), 443–464.

Jamieson, D. (2010). When utilitarians should be virtue theorists. In Climate Ethics. Essential readings.

Kagan, S. (2011). Do I Make a Difference? Philosophy & Public Affairs, 39(2), 105–141.

Lawford-Smith, H. (2016). Difference-Making and Individuals’ Climate-Related Obligations. In C. Heyward & D. Roser (Eds.), Climate Justice in a Non-Ideal World. Oxford University Press.

Maltais, A. (2013). Radically non-ideal climate politics and the obligation to at least vote green. Environmental Values, 22(5), 589–608.

Raterman, T. (2012). Bearing the Weight of the World: On the Extent of an Individual's Environmental Responsibility, Environmental Values, 21(4), 417–436.

Schinkel, A. (2011). Causal and Moral Responsibility of Individuals for (the Harmful Consequences of) Climate Change. Ethics, Policy & Environment, 14(1), 35–37.

Seyfang, Gill (2006): Ecological citizenship and sustainable consumption: examining local organic food networks. In: Journal of rural studies (22), S. 383–395.

Shove, Elizabeth (2012). Habits and Their Creatures. In Alan Warde, Dale Southerton (Eds.): The habits of consumption. Helsinki (Studies across Disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences, 12), pp. 100–112.

Shove, Elizabeth; Pantzar, Mika; Watson, Matt (2012). The dynamics of social practice. Everyday life and how it changes. Los Angeles: SAGE.

Sinnott-Armstrong, W. (2006). It’s Not My Fault: Global Warming and Individual Moral Obligations. Advances in the Economics of Environmental Resources, 5, 285–307.

Warde, Alan (2014). Sociology, Consumption and Habit. In Dale Southerton, Alsitair Ulph (Eds.): Sustainable consumption. Multi-disciplinary perspectives in honour of Professor Sir Parthe Dasgupta. Oxfort Univ. Press, pp. 277-298.

Welch, Daniel; Warde, Alan (2015). Theories of practice and sustainable consumption. In Lucia Reisch, John Thøgersen (Eds.): Handbook of Research on Sustainable Consumption: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 84–100