What is climate justice and why we desperately need it

Stefan Müller/Flickr

One of the main agendas of today’s international relations, climate change has become an unavoidable topic in 2022. As the planetary level catastrophe has now been brought to the backyards of the global North, outright climate change denialism has become an increasingly harder hill to die on. Not surprisingly, talking points regarding climate crisis have now moved from questioning the problem’s existence into different ways (and paces) of solving it.  One of the solutions suggested is that of climate justice, an intersectional approach to this multidimensional problem.

Climate justice and the movement built around it starts from the idea that climate change, although being a planetary level issue, does not affect everyone the same: Already marginalized and economically and socially unfavored groups are disproportionally affected by rising sea levels, droughts, and climate induced food shortages. These groups could be, for example, indigenous people, the poor and most of the global South. 

This notion is supported by scientific evidence: According to a study published in Science Advances, climate models predict increasing temperature variety in poor countries, amplifying the inequalities associated with changing climate.  

What makes it all worse is the knowledge that the countries suffering the most are likely also among those who have contributed the least to climate change: USA and Europe alone contribute to an almost half (47%) of all historical CO2 emissions, whereas a continent like Africa, the current “green scare” of climate discussion, falls to only around 3%. Same radical inequality can also be seen when looking at per capita emissions: CO2 emissions per habitant in a country like France is equivalent to 4,88, whereas that of an average Nigerian is 0,44.

In the light of all this, climate justice movements’ demands seem completely reasonable: rich countries should allocate more resources to poor countries, particularly since the topic has not been addressed much in the past: Back in 2009 in COP15 developed countries promised to allocate non-developed countries 100 million annually in their attempts towards climate adaptation: a pledge that was not honoured and had to be re-addressed in COP26 last year. Going towards COP27 at the end of this year, the topic of loss and damages caused by climate change is the main theme of the conference. Hopefully, this time the representants participating will adhere to the themes of climate justice.

However, the principal reason why climate justice is important is that it opposes Ecofascism: an ugly hybrid between two normally distant ideologies, that of environmentalism and fascism: Ecofascists view the myth of overpopulation as the main driver of the ecological crisis and thus want to impose authoritarian and measures to protect the climate.  They see people dying of climate related catastrophes as a way for nature to balance itself. Often holding white supremacist views, the non-white global South bearing the consequences of the actions of global North does not pose an ethical dilemma for ecofascists.

 The next decades of human history will be undoubtedly marked by the chaos and uncertainty of the ongoing ecological crisis: We have been pushed off the plane and now the only thing we can do is try not to crash. There´s no going back, and the 2020s will determine whether we´re going to have a parachute or not. Moreover, this era will most likely be the grand battle of two ideologies: that of ecofascism and climate justice. Whether we choose to continue on the path of status quo or thrive for justice and responsibility will determine how future generations will remember us: As the people who started the first ecocide or those who prevented it.

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