What is climate justice?
‘Climate justice’ is the term we use to refer to the social, ethical and political implications of climate change, as opposed to only the physical and environmental impacts. It begins with recognising that different groups of people are affected differently by climate change.
For example, the rich are less affected than the poor, and can adapt easier. At the same time, developing countries, indigenous people and the youth of today are not responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions, but will suffer the consequences of climate change far more than richer nations and previous generations.
Climate Justice = Environmental + Social + Climate Change Justice
Why climate justice matters
Climate justice calls us to understand the challenges faced by the people and communities most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Those on the front lines of climate change have often contributed least to the crisis.
Furthermore, these communities are unlikely to have the resources needed to adapt to the changing climate. This makes them particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts. For example, someone living in a township will be less able to cope with drought, flash floods and heat waves than someone who lives in a wealthy area. Likewise, rising sea levels could force millions of people to move to areas where they do not have jobs or networks.
A community’s ability to mitigate* and adapt* to the negative consequences of climate change is shaped by factors such as income, race, class, gender, economic and political representation.
Climate justice also helps us determine how we should fight climate change. It can help governments to allocate resources effectively and assist the most vulnerable. When we improve society with the most vulnerable people in mind, everyone wins!
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*mitigate: to make (something bad) less severe, serious, or painful.
*adapt: to become adjusted to new conditions.