Climate Justice


Why are we talking about climate justice this week? Shocked and appalled by George Floyd’s killing in the USA, it is impossible to remain silent in the face of systemic injustice. It’s critical that we connect the dots between climate and racial justice in order to build communities that are truly equitable for all. 

Climate change deepens divisions. Heat waves, flooding, droughts and severe weather storms are occurring with greater frequency and yet too often, it is the old, the disenfranchised and the marginalised residents in our towns and cities who are most exposed to the risks.

Climate change is unjust. We know that poorer areas and communities are likely to suffer the worst consequences of climate change even though they tend to be responsible for emitting fewer greenhouse gases than populations in wealthier areas. It is not just the consequences that affect these communities: they also are more likely to live around the sources of pollution responsible for warming, like busy roads and industrial sites.

Alongside the climate crisis, the concept of ‘climate justice’ is one of the most pressing issues of our time. Internationally, climate justice is linked with the agenda for human rights and international development, and in sharing the benefits and burdens associated with climate stabilisation. Nowhere is this issue more apparent than in the group of small island countries known as the Small Island Developing States. Collectively, they contribute less than one percent to the world’s greenhouse gas emissions but are among the first to experience existential risks from sea level rise, storm surges and coastal destruction.   

In the U.K. climate justice relates to concerns about these inequitable outcomes that disproportionately affect the marginalised, the vulnerable and the poor within our society – exacerbating injustice, racism and poverty. It relates to the need for impartiality in our policies and responses to address these environmental harms. Climate change is unfair. Our response must not be. We all need to stand up for this.

Originally published on LinkedIn on June 2nd, 2020.

Photo credit to John Tyson on Unsplash

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