We are climate justice organizers and activists because we recognize that people with little responsibility for climate problems often are far more vulnerable and victimized. Some climate justice campaigners also are very concerned about how corporate profits are prioritized over and above sustainability and social justice. And some of us reject other market failures and false ‘solutions’ (such as carbon trading) that likely will only worsen all of these problems. Military systems are worsening these problems, and the full range of fossil and nuclear energy systems behind global warming have other harmful side-effects (including forms of pollution) that some climate justice campaigners are trying to tackle.
We are trying to organize a grassroots, radical movement that will bring about a just transition, away from all of those problems — which is to say that we will not reproduce these problems as we claim to solve them.
Drawing Mobilization for Climate Justice coalition statements (from 2009), we are trying…
1) To build a global movement for climate justice that encourages urgent action to avoid catastrophic climate change, and which addresses the root social, ecological, political and economic causes of the climate crisis toward a total systemic transformation of our society.
2) To promote and strengthen the rights and voices of Indigenous and other affected peoples, including workers in energy-intensive industries, in climate mitigation and adaptation strategies.
3) To expose the consequences of false and market-based climate “solutions” as well as corporate domination of climate negotiations, while advancing alternatives that can provide real and just solutions and which protect biodiversity.
Here’s some more background:
The following explanation of climate justice is a slightly edited version of the account offered by the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative, a U.S.-based network of climate justice organizations.
Who is being affected the most?
Global warming, or climate change more generally, is fundamentally an issue of human rights and environmental justice. With rising temperatures, human lives—particularly in people of colour, low-income, and Indigenous communities—are affected by compromised health, financial burdens, and social and cultural disruptions. These communities are the first to experience the negative impacts of climate change such as heat-related illness and death, respiratory illness, infectious diseases, unaffordable rises in energy costs, and extreme natural disasters. Not only do they bear disproportionate burdens from climate change itself, but also from ill-designed policies to prevent climate change and the side effects of the energy systems that cause it as well. Moreover, those who are most affected are least responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions that cause the problem—both globally and within North America.
What is climate justice?
Climate justice is a vision to challenge and alleviate the unequal burdens created by climate change. As a form of environmental justice, climate justice is the fair treatment of all people and freedom from discrimination with the creation of policies and projects that address climate change and the systems that create climate change and perpetuate discrimination.
Where do we need climate justice?
Climate justice organizers are working strategically at the centres of injustice, in cities and communities across North America and around the world. Climate injustice affects communities both locally and globally.
The time is NOW.
The time for climate justice is now. As major scientific reports make it clear that immediate action to address global warming is critical, climate change is quickly becoming a major political concern both nationally and internationally. Climate justice advocates find themselves with a critical window of opportunity to inject our voices into the political debate to address greenhouse gas emissions and the need for a transition to renewable energy.
As a movement, climate justice advocates are working from the grassroots up to create solutions to our climate and energy problems that ensure the right of all people to live, work, play, and pray in safe, healthy, and clean environments. We envision a just transition to a future free from fossil fuels that protects the most vulnerable from the impacts of climate change.