Climate justice explained with examples and easy action steps

Climate justice explained with examples

Goals & Objectives

  • Understand the impact of climate change on broader communities.
  • See who are the most disadvantaged.
  • Understand better climate injustice with examples.
  • See how you can play a role in better climate justice

TL;DR

Climate justice is a movement which combines environmental justice with ethics, social justice and global inequalities. It redirects the attention to the issues which are the most urgent in face of global warming for communities who are affected the most.

You can
play an active role in climate justice without feeling overwhelmed.


Global
warming, climate change or environmental justice are not new topics. What’s new
is how people see them now. Earlier people thought climate change is bad
because it damages our planet and species, now they start to reconcile in their
heads a more accurate picture. We are planet’s species as well and we are in no
way better protected from extinction than our other co-habitants.

The
influence of climate change on the societies and groups gave birth to climate
justice movement. The heart of the movement is in addressing climate injustices,
focusing on the most urgent actions that we need to take for this. Therefore,
to best understand climate justice we first need to understand climate
injustice.

What is climate injustice

Climate Justice | Z Game Changers

The negative effects of climate change are felt by everyone, but not equally. Just look at who suffers the most from it – disadvantaged groups and communities. Did you know that broadly speaking, countries which feel the global warming destruction the most are the ones that contribute to it the least?

Don’t get
me wrong – each of us experiences climate injustice. It affects every family
and each community, not only those who depend on environment for their bread
(such as farming). We all feel the health damage carried by air pollution,
higher temperatures, shifting seasons and to some extend food insecurity and
rising sea levels.

But you
see, there are many action plans to cope with these issues in developing world
(let’s leave out for now how successful they are). But is there enough planning
to help disadvantaged communities? The ones who are exposed to race , gender or
belief discrimination? The Indigenous People and those living below the poverty
line?  

What is climate justice

Climate Justice examples

Climate justice is a way to address climate injustice, marrying Environmental aspect of climate change with ethics, social justice, human rights and sometimes politics. Sounds vague? I agree. In fact, activists, policy makers, academics and grassroots organizations all have their own views on what climate justice encompasses.

Climate justice is about removing inequalities of how climate change impacts all people, regardless of their demographics, status or income.

So what is climate
justice in plain words? Climate justice is about removing inequalities of how climate
change impacts all people, regardless of their demographics, status or income.
It is supporting communities which have less means to support themselves. It is
redirecting the focus from the wellbeing of your own community to the wellbeing
of all communities.

Climate justice means not treating climate action as a zero-sum game, where for some to win, others need to lose.

EXAMPLES

Climate justice examples within a country

climate justice example

In each
country some regions are affected by environmental changes more than the others.
Think of countries with mining industries – communities that live the closest
to the sites are exposed the most to the pollution emitted from there.

Geographical
proximity is the one that puts them to disadvantage. They don’t necessarily
migrate to these locations out of choice. In most cases, these are their family
homes from long before the sites were discovered as profitable. Not only they
were not asked permission, their dissatisfaction is often brutally repressed.


Similarly to mining sites, industrial plants don’t express much concern about wellbeing of nearby communities. They emit fumes and discharge toxic waste which takes toll on health of those who live in the area. Many plants’ toxic waste contaminates soil and waters. This has an extended impact on wildlife and ecosystems, causing extinction, migration and food contamination. Again, the closer you live to these sites, the more you suffer.

Climate justice examples – Global impact

Climate Justice | Z Game Changers

Remember from the beginning of this post that the countries that suffer from climate change the most are those which contribute to it the least? Let’s see some data.

Below are top 10 contributors to greenhouse emissions, which is considered the biggest driver for climate change. The data is for 2016:

  • China
  • US,
  • EU (cumulative data for 27 countries)
  • India,
  • Russia,
  • Japan,
  • Brazil
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • South Korea

How many of these can you find on the list of the most vulnerable to global warmings countries? Based on 2017 Climate Risk Index, here is a list of top 10 most affected countries:

  • Puerto Rico
  • Sri Lanka
  • Dominicana
  • Nepal
  • Peru
  • Vietnam
  • Madagaskar
  • Siera Leon
  • Bangladesh
  • Thailand

Climate justice examples – waste transfer

Let’s talk trash and toxic waste. The majority
of these are generated by wealthy countries which have some measures in place
to protect their communities. But you know that the waste doesn’t disappear. It
is just shipped to other countries, which make their land available for
disposal of these. China has been known to accept and process most of the
world’s plastic for a long time. But since it banned this practice few years
back, the burden shifted to South-East Asian countries.

Lured by the prospect of income, governments of
the less developed countries in the region readily jumped into the opportunity.
But it appeared, that many ships with plastic trash had biohazardous waste on
the deeper layers in containers. Many ships were abandoned in the sea, as the
companies shipping from developed countries didn’t want to take back their responsibilities.
The result – many ships with biohazardous waste emit toxins to the nearshore
communities where they were abandoned.  

I’d love to change the world step-by-step


1

Measure your strengths

Reading stories of helplessness and not being able to have an impact on this could be disheartening. But many people, maybe even you, feel that no matter they do, won’t be enough.

Please, understand that a little contribution and a small change is much more impactful than no change at all. Even Superman wouldn’t be able to save the whole world.

Celebrate every single act that makes this world better. Even if this is just recycling or volunteering in local communities. Evaluate what is within your power and measure your plans to help against your energy, time, abilities and resources. As long as you are aware of what’s happening and do your own part, there’s a reason to be proud.


2

Choose your area of focus

Doing everything is not doing anything. There are too many areas which need our (as a society) urgent attention. When you try to do too many things at once, none of them receives your full focus. Which means that instead of creating a solution or more prominent impact in one area, you could end up having lots of ideas but no execution in many areas. The result – things stay unchanged (or change too little) while you feel overwhelmed and not effective.

Think of the topic that sparks the most empathy in you. Or maybe a specific community that is always on the top of your head. Direct most of your focus on helping a specific cause. Think of it this way – once you see a desired result in one area, you can then start your next project to help another group. It is much more productive and impactful!

Be part of the solution! Register as a volunteer on our platform to be discovered by the organisations seeking help.


3

Join a Community with a Cause

A single person can do only that much to resolve any injustice. Luckily, there are many people who feel the same way, and who are very ready to change the world and produce a positive impact. Forming into global supranational communities for problem-solving could yield insights that are rare for any single individual, or a group with a similar background.

You can explore online organizations, communities and forums to join the group of the interest and connect with people who care for the same cause. Check Z Game Changers communities and join the conversation on topics which are the closest to your heart.


4

Be a positive activist

While activism is often associated with violent protests or other ways to attract attention to the causes needing attention, you don’t need to follow this path. You can be active within your chosen cause without restoring to drastic measures.

For example, volunteering to clean the trash at your local park or educating people in a peaceful manner on the topic of your choice is a very positive way of activism.

You don’t need to travel across continents with a zero-carbon footprint to call yourself an activist. You could simply talk to your peers or even lecture school kids and neighbourhoods on the importance of adjusting their lifestyle to slow down global warming. Or you could organize a fundraising to help people financially impacted in a specific region.

The only thing that can limit you is your imagination! So what’s your next step?

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