Public hearing

Stakeholder Perspectives on Climate Justice



In its second hearing on climate justice issues, the German Ethics Council would like to learn more about the perspectives of certain stakeholders who are particularly affected by the consequences of climate change. Furthermore, the Council wants to take a closer look at peculiarities of the public debate on the topic.

It is often regarded as particularly unjust that those people who will foreseeably suffer the most from the consequences of global climate change often contribute only a comparatively small share to its emergence. This applies, for example, to many people in the Global South. Their perspective will be presented by Md Shamsuddoha, who himself lives in Bangladesh, one of the countries which are already severely affected by climate change. Thanks to his many years of involvement in international academic and climate policy projects, the director of the Center for Participatory Research and Development in Dhaka is also able to voice general interests and fears of the Global South.

Younger people, too, will be disproportionately affected by the consequences of climate change, even though their contribution to it is likely to be comparatively small. In this context, the Federal Constitutional Court in 2021 referred to a duty of the German state not to overly restrict the future freedom of young people through insufficient legislative action in the present. This was a partial success for the constitutional complaint against the Federal Climate Change Act of 12 December 2019, in which the then 22-year-old Sophie Backsen was involved. The Ethics Council invites her to contribute the perspective of young people to the hearing. Living on the North Frisian island of Pellworm, which already now lies one metre below sea level, Backsen is personally affected by climate change in a particular way.

Another perspective addresses the health consequences of climate change. These include direct health hazards due to more frequent extreme weather events such as heat waves or storms, but also indirect risks such as the spread of pathogens that are adapted to a warmer climate. At the World Health Organization, a dedicated department is working on the correlations between climate change and health. The German Ethics Council welcomes Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, Head of the Climate Change and Health Unit at the World Health Organization.

All invited stakeholders have in common that they and many others are struggling to be heard in the public debate on climate change. The German Ethics Council is therefore also interested in the specific dynamics of this debate, as it influences both the decisions taken on the topic as well as their implementation and acceptance. Is this debate sufficiently open? How does public portrayal of more extreme forms of climate protest affect attitudes towards climate change? Does the use of dramatic terms such as “climate emergency” or “climate catastrophe” in the media have an influence on public opinion on climate change? And what is good communication when it comes to the powerlessness experienced by many in the face of these crisis metaphors? To get answers to these questions, the Ethics Council invites the communication scientist Michael Brüggemann. He heads a research group at the University of Hamburg dedicated to analysing climate communication in different media and countries.


Julian Nida-Rümelin · Vice-Chair of the German Ethics Council

Md Shamsuddoha · Center for Participatory Research and Development, Bangladesh (pdf | 1 MB)
Sophie Backsen · Appellant before the Federal Constitutional Court
Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum · WHO, Climate Change and Health Unit

Kerstin Schlögl-Flierl · German Ethics Council

Michael Brüggemann · University of Hamburg (pdf | 3 MB)

Kerstin Schlögl-Flierl · German Ethics Council

Closing words
Alena Buyx · Chair of the German Ethics Council