The climate, like most things in this world, is unfair. It disproportionately affects people in poorer, more vulnerable countries. These are usually not the people who contribute to carbon emissions and over-consumption.
We have grown accustomed to the world's greed, which is fuelling climate, biodiversity, and pollution crises around the world.
The climate has a significant impact on food, nutrition, droughts, and sea levels. All these factors can contribute to massive global injustices such as poverty and hunger, refugees, and socioeconomic problems. We must recognise the human impact on our constantly changing climate.
Natural disasters are fast becoming ‘normal’ news, as we hear of devastation, destruction and loss. As the temperatures continue to rise, the climate crisis is becoming a matter of life and death.
Climate change is not only an environmental issue; it is also rapidly spreading unequally across social systems, privilege, class, race, and gender.
Climate change is being driven by privileged, wealthy countries that prioritise the economy over the environment. These wealthy countries funded the industrial revolution through colonialism and slavery. This desire for more and greed for power has resulted in a climate disaster.
Why are we putting our faith in the leaders who allowed us to go down this road in the first place to fix it? Governments value socioeconomic status above all else; why give them this power when the planet's future is at stake?
Developing countries have been dealt a bad hand in the economic process, beginning the game with setbacks. On the other side, developed countries build megacities and industries while housing rapidly expands.
The political debate over who gets to cut their emissions the least is still ongoing, and it is not resolving the climate issue. Governments in developed countries want to continue progressing at the same rate as before, pointing fingers at other countries to cut even more.
In this case, privilege is a major factor; the wealthy fly around on private jets to environmental meetings, where they blame those who rely on fossil fuels to survive.
The balance scales are tipped between need and necessity, while governments deny their involvement and responsibility.
The Paris agreement paved the way for the topic to be discussed, but the lack of rules and alignments means we are still off track globally in keeping warming below 2 degrees Celsius. We have reached the point where even 0.5 degrees of warming is disastrous for some countries.
Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that the wealthy can become even wealthier. Without considering the suffering of those who pay the price for this.
Who's at the heart
Amid the world's current crisis, covid has brought both attention and setbacks to the climate emergency.
Climate change is a source of injustice for people of colour, women, and indigenous communities. These are also the ones who are most vulnerable. When comparing counties on a map that produce the most carbon emissions (the global north), it is nearly exactly inverted as to who receives the climate impacts (the global south). We have left these counties with no materials to fight or adapt to the change in landscapes and weather. Creating a global north-south divide which furthers political problems and increases the blame game.
Sea level rise, glacier melts and ocean warming all play a vital part in climate injustice. With the ocean covering three-quarters of the earth’s surface, over 3 billion people directly depend on the ocean for their livelihood. Floods, ocean heatwaves and increased levels of freshwater mean communities are being stripped of food and survival. Causing a large proportion of people to suffer at the hands of westernisation.
Similarly, the majority of these oil and gas sites are located in black and brown communities. Toxic pipelines are being used under schools and villages of people who are suffering from these consequences.
We are all at the heart. We have all contributed to climate change. At some point, we will all feel the repercussions (e.g this summer's heat waves). And we can all do our part to help fix it. Taking responsibility and standing up for what we believe. Using our platforms to effect change, raise awareness, and persuade governments that it affects everyone.
Change happens today
These communities within the south are already dealing with dramatic impacts today, not tomorrow or next week. They face these consequences today. And this devastation is only going to get worse, impacting mostly counties that are the least prepared to deal with them. And that have done the least to create the problem.
This drastic impact has given rise to a new term, climate refugee and it is estimated that 1 billion people will be displaced by 2050. Western countries start to tighten borders, leaving people stranded. Highlighting the counties that have the capability and capacity to help instead of turning a blind eye. This further emphasises the global inequalities that exist.
We must commit to a fairer future for both people and the planet. Making climate change more human-centred. Understanding that climate change is the result of interconnected factors such as exploitation, capitalism, and nature commodification. And those in the firing line hold the least responsibility.
The Green New Deal addresses climate change while also confronting social injustices. This includes modernising energy, transportation, housing, and food systems. In addition, millions of new green jobs are being created. New policies are being developed in collaboration with those who are most marginalised.
Can we work together to improve this world, to envision things working differently? Our past and present are full of injustices, but our future doesn’t have to be. The aim is for everyone to have access to a healthy environment. North or south, it is a basic human right.
We are in a position of power, to use our knowledge to stand up to governments, and speak our minds. we can all make small changes to our lives to help the climate, however until laws change and global action is made the climate crisis will continue to grow. It's not just the planet anymore, communities are losing their livelihoods.
We must slow down, unite, and accept equal responsibilities. Set aside ego and money and recognise that if nothing is done, counties will vanish, and people will perish. Forget about borders and blame; instead, work together to show governments that we can and will address these inequalities. To leave no one behind.