Configuring climate responsibility in the city: carbon footprints and climate justice in Hong Kong

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearch


Climate action is increasingly marked by the responsibilisation of individuals. In this context, carbon footprints have gained traction as a means of both quantifying individual responsibility for climate change and for motivating individual action through changes in behaviour. However, these mechanisms raise questions for climate justice in terms of how such moral and political responsibility is configured and distributed within the city. Drawing on a case study of Hong Kong, this chapter explores the ways in which carbon footprinting configures responsibility for climate action by juxtaposing carbon footprints and the associated techniques of quantification alongside a discussion of the everyday practices of residents in a low-income neighbourhood. It argues that carbon footprints offer important opportunities for measuring the impacts of carbon-intensive activities and generating discussions about the allocation of responsibility for addressing climate change. However, it also demonstrates that individual carbon footprints ignore the uneven nature of carbon emissions in cities as well as obscure important questions about the roles and responsibilities of other actors. In conclusion, the chapter calls for an approach centred on common but differentiated responsibilities for carbon production and consumption to enable a more nuanced configuration of climate justice in the city.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge handbook of climate justice
EditorsTahseen Jafry
Place of PublicationLondon ; New York
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781315537689
ISBN (Print)9781138689350
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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