Research


Electronic copies of publications are provided to ensure timely diffusion of academic work for individual and non-commercial purposes. Copyright and all rights therein reside with the respective copyright holders. The files must not be posted elsewhere without permission

I am an Associate Professor in Political Geography in the Department of Sociology and Social Research, University of Milan-Bicocca. I am also UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) GEO (Global Environment Outlook) expert (Lead Author in the Climate section of the Regional Assessment for Europe, and  involved in the forthcoming Global Environment Outlook).

My research interests include – broadly understood – i) international climate change governance, ii) adaptation and social vulnerability to climate change, and human security. Here is a short CV.

i) A first strand of research investigates the political theory of climate change.
The article ‘Climate ethics: with a little help from moral cognitive neuroscience‘ focuses on the insights that moral cognitive neuroscience offers to climate ethics and proposes a consequentialist approach to the climate crisis. The development of this argument (the article ‘Consequentialist climate ethics‘) was presented  at  a workshop on Distributive Justice and Sustainability (London, LSE, 11 November 2011). Based on this paper I am working on a piece titled  ‘A combined approach to climate change and poverty’. A further development regards the analysis of climate-related harm according to psychology and cognitive science: the article (Sacchi, S., Riva, P., Brambilla, M. and Grasso M., Journal of Environmental Psychology) ‘Moral reasoning and climate change mitigation: The deontological reaction toward the market-based approach’,  is focused on this issue. In a different perspective, the article ‘Sharing the emission budget’ examines the distribution of the emission budget (pun intended). The article ‘Implicazioni dell’approccio del budget delle emissioni per le politiche internazionali contro i cambiamenti climatici’ closely scrutinizes the policy implications of the distribution of the emission budget.
I organized, with Ezra M. Markowitz the workshop ‘Multidisciplinary perspective on climate ethics‘ and I am co-editing the related Special Issue (published by the journal Climatic Change, Volume 130, Issue 3, June 2015). I contributed two pieces to this Special Issue: i) ‘The moral complexity of climate change and the need for a multidisciplinary perspective on climate ethics’ (with Markowitz, E. M.), and ii) ‘Climate ethics at a multidisciplinary crossroads: Four directions for future scholarship’ (with Markowitz, E. M., Jamieson, D.).

A second line of research investigates the ethical dimensions of governance systems for comprehensively dealing with climate change. The article ‘A normative ethical framework in climate change’ identifies a pluralistic normative ethical framework for climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. The article ‘An ethics-based climate agreement in the South Pacific region’ describes a comprehensive regional climate agreement for such region. My work also explores the governance systems of adaptation to climate change. The article ‘The role of justice in the North-South conflict in climate change: the case of negotiations on the Adaptation Fund’ investigates the role that ethical arguments have played in negotiations on the Adaptation Fund. The article ‘An ethical approach to climate adaptation finance’ develops a framework of procedural and distributive justice specifically tailored to the international-level funding of adaptation. The book, ‘Justice in funding adaptation under the international climate change regime‘ investigates the ethical dimensions of the international-level funding of adaptation.

On a more policy-oriented ground, I published with J. Timmons Roberts a Global View Policy Paper for the Brookings Institution – Global Economy and Development program, titled ‘A Fair Compromise to Break the Climate Impasse‘ (Blog Post, Video Interview), that proposes a morally-grounded compromise for moving forward negotiations on emissions reductions. A final version, titled ‘A compromise to break the climate impasse‘, has been published in Nature Climate Change.

My research scrutinizes also procedural justice. The working paper ‘Procedural justice in international negotiations on climate change’ (CISEPS Research Paper No. 6-2011, written with Simona Sacchi) aims to define a notion of procedural justice suitable for climate negotiations. A revised version, titled ‘Impure procedural justice in climate governance systems‘  is published in Environmental Values. It analyzes and applies a particular version of procedural justice to climate governance systems.

A further area of investigation on climate governance systems relates to consumption-based carbon accounting. In this regard I am currently working on the international politics of consumption-based accounting and on the dynamics of power among countries and regions caused by such accounting basis and on its political feasibility. On this latter issue I published a paper in the journal New Political Economy: The political feasibility of consumption-based carbon accounting, and one in the journal Geoforum (Achieving the Paris goals: Consumption-based carbon accounting).

I also work on the governance of solar radiation management, a high leverage, controversial family of climate engineering approaches. I am currently working on two papers: one on the feasibility of solar radiation management, and the other on legitimacy and procedural justice in solar radiation management governance. Meanwhile, I wrote a general article (in Italian) on geoengineering for a nice magazine, Pagina99.

ii) Social vulnerability to climate change is mostly explored in relation to adaptation and adaptive capacity. The articles ‘Mediterranean agriculture under climate change: adaptive capacity, adaptation, and ethics (Appendix)’ and ‘A regional governance system for adaptation to climate change in the Mediterranean region’ (in preparation) explore such aspects in the Mediterranean countries. The article, written with M. Moneo and M. Arena, ‘Assessing social vulnerability to climate change in Samoa‘ (Regional Environmental Change) measures social vulnerability to climate change in Samoa and the South Pacific Islands through a specifically designed index.

In relation to human security I co-edited, with M.R. Redclift, the ‘Handbook on climate change and human security‘, and contributed, with M.R. Redclift, the Introduction ‘Introduction: human security in the age of carbon’, and, with G. Feola, a chapter, ‘Human security and climate change in the Mediterranean region’.

I have also started working on marine policy. In particular, I am studying the political features of institutions managing the deep seabed, a global commons.

I worked on the multidimensional analysis of well-being. This, however, proved to be an awkward topic for me. I used to firmly believe in the fallacy of GDP as a measure of well-being. Yet, to cut a long story short, I now instead believe that GDP is a good measure of the quality of life, at least in the industrialized countries, as the article ‘An assessment of the quality of life in the European Union’ shows. I am no longer interested in these themes.

This is the evaluation (in Italian) of my research activity carried out by the 2004-2010 research assessment (VQR 2004-2010) of the Italian Ministry of Education, University, Research (Ministero dell’Istruzione, dell’Università e della Ricerca – MIUR). In the last VQR (2011-2014) – just released – I obtained twoexcellent assessments (the highest) for the two articles considered.

On a slightly different ground, here’s a story (mine) about the Abilitazione Scientifica Nazionale for the position of ‘full professor’. I didn’t get it: here are the motivations for that. This is instead an article on this  story.

©2011-2017 Marco Grasso. All rights reserved.