What is Climate Justice?

Climate justice is the idea that climate crisis is a social justice issue because the causes, consequences, and solutions to climate change are all fundamentally social and embedded with inequality.

Here’s my presentation on how we need system change – a different economic and political system – to achieve climate justice. Please cite appropriately if you use it.

Here are some of my favorite ways of thinking about climate justice:

From Rebecca Hall and Peaceful Uprising

Climate justice is a social justice issue.

Climate justice  includes a focus on the root causes of climate change and making the systemic changes that are therefore required, a commitment to address the disproportionate burden of the climate crisis on the poor and marginalized, a demand for participatory democracy in changing these systems which require dismantling the fossil fuel corporate power structure, and a commitment to reparations and thus a fair distribution of the world’s wealth.

From Rising Tide North America

Climate justice is more than just a goal; it’s a practice in the movement against climate chaos. No effort to create a livable future will succeed without the empowerment of marginalized communities and the dismantling of the systems of oppression that keep us divided.

From Patrick Bond (2014)

Climate justice includes: anti-racist environmentalism, system-transformation, ecological debt, and challenge to corporations.

Bond, Patrick. 2014. “Justice.” Pp. 133-45 in Critical Environmental Politics: Interventions, edited by C. Death. London: Routledge.

From Gopal Dayaneni (2009)

One way to think of this is that climate action is not always action for climate justice. Depending on the theory of change and strategies you are employing, the action must either, and ideally in combination advance a rights-based agenda consistent with the frameworks established collectively by the international climate justice movement; take leadership from and be accountable to those most directly impacted and least responsible; or engage in community struggles on the root causes of climate change. (my emphasis)

Dayaneni, Gopal. 2009. “Climate Justice in the U.S.” Pp. 80-85 in Contours of Climate Justice: Ideas for Shaping New Climate and Energy Politics, Vol. 6, Critical Currents, edited by U. Brand, N. Bullard, E. Lander and T. Mueller. Uppsala, Sweden: Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation.