Climate change is not just an environmental issue, it is effecting humanity much more than is known, thus becoming a social justice issue.
What is social justice?
When discussing social justice, this is the reference for equal access to wealth, opportunities and privileges within a society.
"Social justice is a concept that originates in philosophical discourse but is widely used in both ordinary language and social science, often without being clearly defined." - Jost, J. T., & Kay, A. C. (2010)
Social justice is the ideology that all humans should be entitled to the same opportunities and be treated equally. When discussing social justice, the factor that all people have different backgrounds and childhoods must be considered as there is a lot of diversity within society, although the level of diversity should not play a factor in how much or little social justice plays a factor within their life. Social justice is designed to unite humanity with the achievement of having similar goals. The main goals are access, equity, diversity, participation and human rights.
What is climate justice?
Climate change is one of, if not the biggest threat to the planet and human race. However, climate change will affect people and parts of the world differently, this is due to where the individuals live as well as seas level rising and the result of extreme weather. No one can escape the climate crisis taking place within the world, although people's well-being will be affected drastically different, and there will not be an equally distributed affect of climate change on to the human race. Often enough, those who are least responsible will suffer the consequences first and by greater measures. The level to which one is more or less vulnerable to the effects of climate change are dependable upon many elements such as social, environmental, economic and cultural factors.
This study defines climate justice as follows:
"ensuring collectively and individually we have the ability to prepare for, respond to and recover from climate change impacts – and the policies to mitigate or adapt to them – by considering existing vulnerabilities, resources and capabilities."
In summary, climate change is referring to significant events such as sea level rising, global temperature increasing and overall weather changes that have been monitored throughout the past few decades. While climate justice is a more humanised approach and concept that is attempting to aim for equal share of the benefits and negatives that climate change offers as well as the responsibilities and action needed in order to fight back against the damage that humans have done to earth.
Why is climate change a social justice problem?
The world is a game of economic progress, while the fortunate and wealthy have been abusing their needs, the less fortunate have had to feel the result of this through climate change. The countries who are most vulnerable to feeling the effects of climate change are also the ones who produce the least amount of CO2 emissions, however those who create the most CO2 emissions such as the wealthy are at low risk.
"It is the sufferings of the many, that pay for the luxuries of the few" - Greta Thunberg
Although climate change is very much an environmental issue as it is destroying the planet, it is a misconception that people believe everyone will suffer the same consequences. This is when climate change and the climate justice movement is very much a social justice issue, this is due to climate change heavily affecting countries who are least prepared to tackle them. Nationalism has contributed to this as due to wealthy countries growing more comfortable within their own grounds, they have slowly cut themselves off from the rest of the world of which leaves the less fortunate alone and to fight for themselves.
What can our generation do?
In order to save not just the planet, but also utilise the social justice and climate justice movement to ensure that countries commit to a fair approach that owns up for their contribution to climate change, instead of leaving others to deal with it. Climate justice is recognising where the problems initially originate from such as capitalism, resource extraction and overall exploitation.
The green new deal is a plan to revolutionise and modernise the way of living through clean energy, transport and heavily decreasing CO2 emissions. One of the main reasons this is important is that it will open up and create job opportunities for which the less fortunate can take in order to give back for the mistakes wealthy countries have made. Finally, although climate change is often referred to as a concept or believe, it is time to start evolving those visions into reality. Although within the past it has been neglected, a new future is needed and the time to act is now.