Whilst the countries that have caused the most carbon emissions can turn a blind eye to climate change and instead live in riches, these riches are at the devastating cost of the poorest countries the least equipped to deal with the destruction.
In this article, I’ll be highlighting the urgency of climate justice by explaining how social and human rights intertwine into climate change making it, in many eyes the greatest social issue of all. Conclude by turning your focus to how you can be a part of the solutions!
How Is Climate Change A Social Justice Issue?
The phrase social justice arose from the philosophy of fairness. The concept is that in a morally functioning society every person has an equal right to opportunities, health, wealth and access to basic needs such as housing and survival resources. It is an absolute breach of human rights to create harm to humans and to not put measures in place to protect those greatly affected. With this information, it’s clear to see there is no justice in knowingly destroying the climate for money whilst letting the most vulnerable groups of society take the fall unsupported. The most impacted groups globally are black communities, indigenous communities, immigrants and those in poverty.
Who are the climate culprits?
To answer this, we must view the history of the issue, and the numbers are shocking. NY times states:
“Rich countries, including the United States, Canada, Japan and much of western Europe, account for just 12 per cent of the global population today but are responsible for 50 per cent of all the planet-warming greenhouse gases released from fossil fuels and industry over the past 170 years.”
Reiterating the premise that until it affects them, they don’t care. But when did this start? The industrial revolution changed our world from 1760. This began in Britain, the start of human activity pumping a crazy amount of greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide into our earth's atmosphere. As this is not a natural act, we’ve had extremely concerning effects as a result, including changes in our sun's energy causing temperatures to increase so high which has had a direct knock-on effect on the ice caps melting and many devastating fires.
Fossil Fuel companies refute their responsibility via greenwashing and false promises. Many companies have rebranded to look like they are a part of the fight against climate change whilst still being far from the Paris agreement goals. Here you can find a list of the top twenty companies contributing the most carbon dioxide.
The most hurtful companies, in my opinion, are ExxonMobil, Shell and French Oil the largest oil companies, they thought it acceptable to hide the knowledge of climate change from the public since 1971! Wasting precious time we can never gain back.
Scrapping fossil fuels and replacing them with renewable energy such as increasing the use of solar. The green new deal included this idea alongside understanding to fight climate change we must combine social, climate and economic justice. However, sadly this was discontinued due to funding. So as the people we must act! Here are a few ways you can be a part of the solution
Activism: Support those already affected by writing letters to your MPs, attending council meetings and spreading awareness. Follow accounts such as zero hours, Chicks for Climate, and Pattie Gonia: Keep up with the movement. Attend marches to make your voice heard!
Plant a tree! : If this is not within your skill set, you can donate to an organisation to do the hard work for you, this is normally a very cheap process to help sometimes even for a quid! for example, Ecologi.
Be mindful of your transport use: Instead of taking a holiday abroad each year, I would suggest alternatives such as staycation in a joint effort to reduce air pollution. Perhaps take up skateboarding to get around ( you’ll also look really cool) or get rid of unnecessary car trips for a half an hour walk.
Stop following fashion trends: Fashion is a huge polluter, outfit repeating is not a negative thing, it’s something to be applauded. A clothes swap with your friends or family can be a fun place to start reducing unneeded consumption.
Overall what I want you to take away from this, is the understanding that just because you don't yet feel the effects of climate change doesn’t mean others aren’t we need to support the communities affected. Join the fight for those already fighting for their lives.