The Equivalence of Injustice
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Ten years after the first gas-mining earthquake in Groningen the people of the region still suffer regular quakes and the effects of the poor political response. Although it appears as a clear case of environmental injustice, it is situated in one of the richest and most socially secure countries in the world. This makes it an interesting paradox when compared to more classical cases of environmental injustice such as that of oil drilling in the Niger Delta, which is rich in historic marginalisation. This research examines the functioning of the environmental justice framework in describing the lived experiences of injustice in a highly privileged country such as the Netherlands. This was done by comparing the lived experiences of the people of Groningen to those of the people of the Niger delta. With this I contributed to expanding the environmental justice framework to become more encompassing, showing that comparison of cases is indeed possible, whilst simultaneously contributing to the dearth of qualitative data in the discourse. The qualitative research involved meetings with involved organisations, and focus groups and interviews with inhabitants of both regions. These were analysed using the environmental justice frameworks of Fraser and Nussbaum and compared to the lived experiences of the inhabitants of the Niger delta. It was found firstly that the frameworks were indeed capable of capturing and interpreting the lived experiences in Groningen. Secondarily, the research showed that the experiences in both approaches were impacted in varying but comparable ways. Importantly, it showed many experiences to be similar between cases, even though the impacts of the actual injustice were not, and Groningen had no history of marginalisation. I thus argue that the comparing of cases is indeed possible and useful and provides valuable clues about underlying systemic problems. Furthermore, I argue that the prerequisite of historic marginalisation hampers the frameworks capacity to describe cases that would otherwise benefit from qualifying as environmental injustice, such as Groningen.