Climate justice is the solution – a concept that addresses the ethical dimensions of climate change. This is an approach that acknowledges and accepts different levels of responsibility and privilege by ensuring a just transition to a low-carbon economy and understands that the underlying root causes of the climate crisis are inequity and exploitation. Climate justice involves considering the fairness of global emission reduction targets and the respective roles and costs for different nations to reduce emissions.
Systems of oppression that have led us here need to be tackled. A global response that redistributes power from the people that have caused the climate crisis to the people who are most impacted by it is essential. One of the ways we can do this is by listening and being led by communities on the front-line of the crisis – the majority of whom are mainly poor, women and/or people of colour.
A ‘just’ transition will involve some chance of a safe climate for future generations, an equal distribution of the remaining global carbon budget between countries and a transition in the UK where everyone’s essential needs for housing, transport and energy use are met. Examples of a just transition should be decent jobs for everyone, paid at a real living wage, workers in fossil-fuel intensive industries being supported and retrained to work in low carbon-industries, retrofitting existing housing stock and building new homes to high environmental standards – ensuring everyone has a warm place to live, transforming land use, reintroducing forests and peats as carbon sinks and changing diets to ensure we can feed everyone effectively and use land and resources responsibly. This will reduce unsustainable levels of consumption by restricting unnecessary waste and ensuring we are using resources to meet the priority of everyone’s basic needs. It will also immediately stop subsiding the fossil fuel industry and massively scale up renewable energy production.
Solutions to the climate crisis already exist – what is missing and what is needed is political leadership to make the changes necessary at global, national and local levels. Change won’t happen unless we demand it. Building a broad, intersectional movement,capable of exerting sufficient pressure on political representatives that should be held accountable will drive real change. In order to do this, we need to make sure our organising isn’t replicating the same power dynamics that caused the climate crisis.