Multilevel intergroup conflict at the core of climate (in)justice: Psychological challenges and ways forward

Rohini Majumdar, Elke U. Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Although developed countries have been historically responsible for causing climate change, developing countries are more vulnerable to its current and future effects and being asked to commit to levels of climate action that exceed their responsibilities and capabilities. Climate change exacerbates existing social inequities by disproportionately impacting certain groups (including women, racial minorities, and the poor) more than others. Powerful institutions such as the government and the academy have a responsibility to alter this course and advance climate justice but are themselves marred by inequities. Given these disparities, the question of how the burden of climate change mitigation should be justly distributed amongst stakeholders is of paramount importance to international and domestic climate negotiations. Insights from the social identity and group processes literatures explain how experiences of inequity along geographical and sociodemographic dimensions generate identities and groups. As group members, people are sensitive to threats to the ingroup, experience collective emotions on behalf of the group, and differentially apply morality to in- versus outgroups. Members are also incentivized to protect and further their group's interests relative to outgroups. Social psychology offers some promising avenues of research for potential solutions to mitigate the multilevel intergroup conflict posing as a barrier to climate justice. Climate governance recommendations to policymakers and negotiators include incentivizing integrative solutions and fully considering the justice implications of climate policy. Climate scholars are encouraged to pursue interdisciplinary collaborations, improve diversity within the academy and in research samples, and prioritize climate adaptation in developing contexts. This article is categorized under: Climate, History, Society, Culture > Disciplinary Perspectives Climate, Nature, and Ethics > Climate Change and Global Justice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere836
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Atmospheric Science


  • climate justice
  • group processes
  • inequality
  • intergroup conflict
  • social identity


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