Climate justice is a concept that recalls the multiple and interconnected systems of inequality that can be recognised in the causes as well as the consequences of the climate crisis.
Important notes on climate justice
- The climate crisis implies a number of levels of injustice: intergenerational, geographical, historical and social;
- Globally, the top 10% of emitters were responsible for almost half of global energy-related CO2 emissions in 2021, compared to a mere 0.2% for the bottom 10%;
- At the 27th Conference of the Parties in 2022, countries agreed to establish a Loss and Damage Fund. This fund implies the recognition by industrialised countries of their responsibility for the impacts of climate change on those countries that have contributed least to it.
The environmental justice movement, parent of the climate justice movement, originated primarily in communities of people of colour in the global South and rich countries, particularly the United States. The origin of the movement is closely linked to decades-long local campaigns against pollution from industrial plants, often located near poorer, non-white communities, and against the extractive activities of multinational corporations to the detriment of many indigenous peoples.
From these local struggles, a global discourse subsequently developed. Those who have contributed least to the detonation of the climate crisis are very often also those who are most exposed and least equipped to resist its consequences. The climate crisis is a historical legacy of colonialism and socio-economic development models based on resource extraction. It is a force that hits first and hardest those who contributed least to it.
Climate justice also has a strong generational dimension. The generations that have contributed the most to dragging the world into its current state will not be there to see it when the results of their choices manifest themselves with full force. The IPCC estimates that children 10 years of age and younger in 2020 will experience a nearly fourfold increase in extreme weather events in the presence of 1.5°C global warming by 2100, and a fivefold increase in the presence of 3°C warming. Such increases will not be experienced by a person who is 55 years old in the year 2020.
The notion of climate justice is not only a reminder of past responsibilities and compensations, but also a filter with which to think about the future transition. A just transition cannot afford to widen current gaps and must be conducted in a way that cushions the impacts on the most vulnerable as much as possible.