Abstract The debate on environmental and ecological citizenship provides an important opportunity to explore the relations between ethical and political discourses and how ideas of moral community and political community are articulated. Two options have emerged: 1) grounding citizenship in the application of a specific approach from environmental ethics to the normative conduct of politics; 2) drawing on conventional conceptions of the political community in order to establish ecological citizenship (squeezing the gap between 'law and justice'). This paper challenges both, considering how the elements articulated through 'modes of citizenship' regulate the production of meaning on entitlements and obligations and generate 'subject positions' in which individuals can invest their identities. Citizenship is an ethico-political space where the right, the good and the virtuous are subject to deliberation. Conceptions of community, justice, rights, obligations and citizenship need reappraisal to provide an adequate vocabulary to address the difficulties created by contemporary environmental problems.