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What is climate justice and how can you help?

19 Oct 2023

This article discusses Oxfam Australia’s work in Climate Justice, which focuses on addressing the worsening climate crisis and its impact on inequality and poverty. Let’s strive for a future that is fair, safe, and equal. If you’d like to make a donation directly to support this cause, please purchase a related card from Oxfam Unwrapped or visit Oxfam Australia’s Climate Justice page.

Scorching hot temperatures, devastating droughts, flash floods and the people least responsible copping the worst of it.

Unfortunately, this is the reality our world is facing. While powerful countries drain resources through massive industries and high consumption, people living in poverty are left without the means to protect themselves and their families from increasing disasters. 

So, what do we do to combat the climate crisis? We introduce ‘climate justice’. The cry for climate justice has been going on for decades, and while there’s been tremendous progress, there’s much more work to be done.

What is climate justice exactly?

At its core, climate justice is a movement that spotlights a hard truth: that the climate crisis affects us all – but not equally. At the moment, the communities that are most affected by climate change are often the ones least responsible for it. 

These communities (rightly) began pointing out how unfair that was and calling for global action. They knew that to halt climate change, we must have justice for those most affected by the climate crisis — and hold those responsible to account. 

This means making sure the people most impacted by the climate crisis have a strong collective voice to challenge the biggest polluters. It also means making sure the big polluters are putting resources back into communities so they can prepare and respond to climate impacts.

And so, climate justice was born. 

Is climate justice the same as environmental justice?

Yes and no. Environmental justice focuses on the equal distribution of both environmental benefits and burdens that come with it. It operates on the premise that everyone has an equal responsibility to clean up the mess we’ve made.

Whereas, climate justice looks at the global, long-term impacts of climate change and fights for the rights of those most vulnerable to it.

Are things getting better? 

Since the launch of climate justice initiatives, there have been signs of progress in many places, according to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2022 Report.

One is the growth rate of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It’s been shrinking from 2.1% per year between 2000 and 2009 to 1.3% between 2010 and 2019. 

Another is the list of nations that have managed to reduce both territorial carbon dioxide (CO2) and GHG emissions and consumption-based CO2 emissions has been growing for about ten years now. 

Coal is losing its steam too. The rate of emissions growth from coal has slowed since 2010, thanks to coal power plants being retired in the US and Europe, fewer new plants being added in China, and numerous planned global plants being scrapped or converted to co-firing with biomass.

The challenges of pushing for progress

According to the same IPCC report, every time we push for change, challenges pull us in the opposite direction.

For instance, the GHG emissions. Although their growth rate has slowed, they’re still rising. From 2000 to 2009, emissions increased by 8.9 gigatonnes of Co2 equivalent and from 2010 to 2019, they grew by another 6.5. 

Despite recent progress, we still have some way to go with coal too. While the emissions rate has declined for over two decades, new coal capacity is still being funded and developed by a handful of countries and international development banks, often abroad. 

Where to begin supporting climate justice

The first step to pushing for climate justice is acknowledging that the climate crisis affects us all, but not equally.  

Some people will experience harsher climates than others due to geography. And some communities around the world rely on ecosystems that are more vulnerable to climate change. They’re at risk of losing crucial resources in the face of these changes.  

While shaking things up at the top and continuing to push for changes in how businesses in industrialised countries operate are still essential, there are still ways that we can all support climate justice.

One super easy and super gratifying way to support climate justice is to purchase an Unwrapped gift card for a loved one today. In doing so you will be supporting important climate justice initiatives such as:

Helping South African communities grow their own food

With your help, our Garden gift card plants seeds of hope in these communities. Your support helps local farmers grow fruits and veggies they can use for their own consumption or to sell for a living. Every tomato plucked and every corn harvested is a step away from poverty and a step closer to climate justice.

Empowering Mekong communities to question government and corporate policies

In the Mekong region, our Fish gift card helps local communities cast their nets for a sustainable future. With your help, they can question and influence corporate and government policies. Policies that reel in trouble for their livelihood, such as large-scale dam projects.

Providing access to clean, renewable energy

We’ve been burning the candle at both ends for so long that many countries are feeling the heat at unfair levels. But we’re powering up communities with clean, renewable energy through the Clean Energy gift card. Through your support, communities are building a more sustainable future without fanning the flames of climate change.

Support Climate Justice Now 

Our sustainable living gift cards and gift card bundles are a great way to make a difference. You can also support climate justice today at Oxfam Australia.

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