In this article
- Climate justice is a human right
- Climate change is mostly a product of injustice
- Global warming is a human crisis
- The worst victims are rarely the worst perpetrators
- The climate breakdown worsens unfair social conditions
The sixth report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change clearly outlines the horrific impact humans are having on our planet. According to the report, “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.”
It’s no surprise the media is awash with content about floods, air pollution and rising temperatures. What’s also noticeable is that such disasters often hit rural communities.
Key groups are impacted differently by climate change. Countries in the Global South, for example, have a worse case of flooding and crop failures. And low-income communities often deal the most with consequences of an overly exploitative economy.
Research shows that persons displaced the most by climate change are women, and they’re more likely to die or be harmed by resulting natural disasters. Disabled persons, older people and chronically sick persons will find it harder to cope with harsh weather conditions, while communities of colour face a higher risk of air pollution.
Something has to be done.
But do these communities impacted the most by the effects of the climate crisis have what it takes to recover from their losses? Are they really to blame for the outcomes of the climate breakdown? Is it fair for those most responsible for the situation to stand back simply because they have the resources to safeguard themselves?
This brings us to the concept of climate justice.
What is climate justice?
To properly understand climate justice, one must recognise that the unfavourable effects of global warming are experienced disproportionately by different people across the globe. Certain populations are more privileged than others, so the brunt of the worsening climate will be borne differently between countries, socioeconomic classes, races, gender and even generations.
Surprisingly, the ones who have contributed the least to the deterioration of the climate actually suffer its effects the worst.
Thus, climate justice, as a concept, encapsulates
- The different ways that global warming affects people
- The various steps that can be taken to equitably tackle the challenge.
In a nutshell, climate justice emphasises the fair division of the benefits and obligations of managing climate change. It further considers the mutuality of endeavours – striving to resolve the climate crisis will create a fairer world for all communities.
Associating climate change, along with its drivers and outcomes, with justice has a remarkable effect. It approaches the concept as a social, ethical and political concern, instead of a mere environmental and physical issue.
Talks of salvaging the climate should not only focus on atmospheric carbon concentration and temperatures. The concepts of justice, power and access to resources matter as well.
Why is climate justice important?
Climate justice matters a great deal for a number of reasons. Let’s uncover these reasons.
1. Climate justice is a human right
Fundamental rights are derived from natural law and are vital to the proper existence of every human being. All people deserve to live their lives in safety and enjoy equal treatment. However, the climate breakdown infringes upon the rights to life, food, safety, health and a good standard of living.
The situation is made worse by the fact that the dangers aren’t evenly spread. While certain countries and communities suffer climate crises more harshly, others are better off.
2. Climate change is mostly a product of injustice
We agree that virtually all humans have contributed in one way or another to the climate breakdown. But the actions of the average person pale in comparison to the ultra-destructive practices of certain countries and corporations.
The climate crisis an be seen as a spin-off of colonialism and ruthless capitalism.
European and North American economies have flourished, courtesy of the exploitation of land, resources and labour from countries in Asia, South America and Africa. Even after many of these countries have been declared independent, a voracious model that allows them to be leeched by the former colonial masters still exists.
In these countries, multinational corporations carry out their business with little concern for the environment and the lives of indigenous people. With a tunnel vision of maximising profits, corporations can apply methods that devastate the environment.
This makes it imperative to find a way to right the wrongs done to these underprivileged countries and communities by the richer countries and powerful corporations.
3. Global warming is a human crisis
Considering climate change as strictly an environmental issue makes light of the matter at hand. The environment isn’t a separate element; it’s tied to our existence and identity. The rainforests and polar bears aren’t the only ones in danger.
We, humans, are in danger too.
Climate justice is important because it makes humans the central element, and rightfully so! Understanding the human dimension of global warming helps us recognise the actual threat to lives and livelihood, allows for better communication and nurtures a more representative approach to addressing the problem.
Without climate justice, humans will face extinction. It’s just a matter of time.
4. The worst victims are rarely the worst perpetrators
The current climate change is a global concern. However, its adverse effects are not felt equally. The communities and regions hit first and worst by global warming are typically the ones who bear the least responsibility for causing it.
The blame mostly lies with the wealthy countries that adopted destructive practices to turbocharge industrialisation. Due to good financial standing, they’re usually safe from the unpleasant outcomes of the current climate breakdown.
Unfortunately, the countries that bear the brunt of the crisis are mostly agrarian and low-income countries. Besides suffering the most, they lack the financial wherewithal to deal with the problems that come with climate change.
5. The climate breakdown worsens unfair social conditions
It’s common knowledge that the human population is divided into social classes. And with this division comes an inequitable distribution of wealth. Climate change further widens the gap and preserves socioeconomic inequities, constantly making the vulnerable communities worse off.
Due to global warming, these vulnerable and marginalised communities regress into more decadent conditions such as
- Poorer housing in the face of increasingly harsh weather conditions
- Loss of homes due to rising sea levels
- Worse health challenges due to the toxic environment
- Food shortage due to floods, droughts and wildfires that destroy their means of livelihood
These are only a few ways in which global warming exacerbates the current social divide. Yet, they highlight the importance of climate justice.
Grantmakers and agencies working for climate justice
Yes, there is much to be done. But, grantmakers and changemakers across the globe are working to address climate justice in a myriad of ways. Below are some notable grantmakers and intermediary organisations striving toward climate justice.
1. McKnight Foundation
This Minneapolis-based organisation chooses to advance climate justice by funding participatory democracy. With the understanding that funding the vulnerable and directly impacted communities to take part in making climate policies will lead to better solutions, it sponsors efforts that empower regular persons to groom their political strength.
2. Barr Foundation
The Barr Foundation is committed to grappling with racial inequities. As a result, its climate department doubled down to figure out how racial disparities manifest in climate matters. The organisation then came up with effective strategies for equitable climate solutions. Some of the strategies are growing black, indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) leadership and supporting racial equity analysis among legacy climate and environmental organisations.
3. Oak Foundation
This grantmaking organisation puts humans at the centre of its strategy to protect the future by altering how we fuel the world. Importantly, it acknowledges that sustainable change is truly attainable when the steps being taken make sense to the most vulnerable communities.
4. Laudes Foundation
Founded in 2020 and headquartered in Amsterdam, Laudes Foundation targets prime industrial sectors and financial systems to tackle inequality and climate change. To achieve this, it makes the best use of four significant figures: legislators, industry participants, financial partners and communities as well as the workers in them.
5. Libra Foundation
The Libra Foundation understands that how it does its work is as essential as what it funds. Thus, the organisation made the shift to trust-based philanthropy as it focused on racial justice and equity. Consequently, they have implemented a no-application and no-report process for grantees, choosing to be responsible to maintain the relationship with its grantee partners.
6. Surdna Foundation
The Surdna Foundation runs a program that centres on racial justice and the actual experiences of low-wealth communities and communities of colour. The program operates on the notion that funding the low-ranking climate justice movements will move the needle for more equitable results.
7. The Kresge Foundation
This foundation maintains that climate change is one of the greatest challenges to public health today. Thus, it seeks to deal with the health equity impacts of climate breakdown. The foundation’s tactics focus on health institutions, health practitioners and community-based supporters.
8. Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action
This foundation takes into account the fact that even though women are disproportionately impacted by climate change, support for them is unbearably minimal in private funding. Thus, it attempts to alter this arrangement by strengthening its network partners and their work at the intersection of gender and climate justice.
9. Disability Rights Fund
Disabled persons face a greater risk of injury, death or being left behind in the event of natural disasters. So, this organisation plays an intersectional role to give people with disabilities a voice when schemes are being created to combat global warming.
10. The Hewlett Foundation
After an assessment of its grantee partners, the Hewlett Foundation realised that it was funding mostly white-dominant organisations. So, to enhance its equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) practices, it took calculated steps to diversify the organisations that it supports and equally integrated climate justice across all of its operations.
11. Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice
This intermediary organisation supports the climate justice ecosystem by partnering with grassroots organisations. It also supports the movement for climate justice by investing in civic engagement to build political power and promote greater accountability from decision-makers.
12. The Solutions Project
The Solutions Project is an agency that’s committed to financing female leaders of colour at the helm of climate justice matters. It champions grantmaking by supporting wellness, climate solutions and building media capacity for the female leaders of colour who rarely get coverage.
13. Solidaire Network
As an agency working at the intersection of race, gender and climate justice, Solidaire Network has made intentional efforts to shift power. This has enhanced the sense of community and accountability in its work.
The Mosaic organisation implements a participatory grantmaking model that connects funders to grassroots leaders and non-governmental organisations. It funds movement infrastructure to help those fighting for a better climate.
15. Climate Justice Resilience Fund
This intermediary organisation takes a people-focused approach toward the pursuit of climate justice. Its efforts concentrate on three groups of people: women, young people and indigenous people. They also focus on three vulnerable regions: the drylands of Kenya and Tanzania, the North American Arctic and the Bay of Bengal (India and Bangladesh).
16. Grassroots International
As an agency, Grassroots International is inspired by political education practices of social movements. Its priority areas include climate justice, donor organising and donor education. Thus, it helps donors blend grantmaking with profound political enlightenment to help come up with an exploration of race, gender and colonialism – the root causes of climate inequities.
In conclusion, climate crisis is a major concern of our generation, and climate justice is more important than ever before in addressing the crisis. Fortunately, these grantmakers and intermediaries have risen to the occasion. And more are soon to follow suit.