In the UK, Climate Justice Is a Class Issue

In the UK, Climate Justice Is a Class Issue

In the UK, climate justice is above all else a class issue. Low-income households will suffer the most for a variety of reasons. To begin, the inability to afford climate adaptions such as air conditioning and flood defenses put people at a greater risk of death during extreme weather conditions. As the climate warms, extreme weather, both hot and cold, becomes the norm. The cost of food is likely to surge for this very reason. With the price of fresh water set to rise, irrigation prices will go up. Different crops will be less adapted to the new temperatures and farmers will produce lower yields, reducing the supply and increasing the cost of food across the globe. For families already struggling to pay for their weekly food shop and the number of food bank users already rising, the situation is very real and very frightening.

The inequality experienced by poorer individuals is amplified even further when living in low-income areas where it becomes a community issue. For example, areas that are at high risk of flooding have cheaper houses because of the associated risks, making them more affordable for low-income families who then struggle to get decent house insurance and lose their possessions when flooding occurs. Further, impoverished communities are most often situated in the inner-city, often including a high concentration of refugee and migrant workers as well.  As the temperatures rise, urban areas are significantly hotter due to the Urban Heat Island effect, explained by the masses of tarmac absorbing the heat and the lack of urban greening that would otherwise cool down the city. Research has shown heat-related deaths such as heat stroke, heart attacks and organ failure pose a greater risk to inner-city dwellers for this reason. It’s important to note that although this is a class issue, other types of disadvantaged communities are also more likely to experience poverty, due to their race, ethnicity, or circumstance, and so are more likely to experience climate-related injustices.

In order to address this widening gap in inequality, protective policy needs to be implemented at the national and local level. Councils need funding to support local infrastructure like flood defenses, street trees and public parks where people can go to cool down on hot days.  Most importantly, funding should go to programmes that protect the most vulnerable in our society, such as food banks and community centers to avoid the deepening of poverty for people and place. Post-2008 council funding was slashed in the name of economic recovery. In 2020, economic recovery is being pushed towards green recovery. Although investment in green growth and low-carbon technologies are hugely important, it also is important that all green recovery measures also consider climate justice and the needs of poorer communities.

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Please send the following message to the policymaker(s) below.

Dear Rt Hon Rishi Sunak,

In light of the efforts for a green recovery in the UK, I advise you to consider the positive impacts of climate justice. Climate justice is a value system that adheres to the principle of equality in practice.

As the effects of climate change ripple through the world, it is the most impoverished communities that will struggle to adapt to the temperature increases and extreme weather conditions. In the UK, this is reflected in those who will struggle to afford housing that is secure against flooding and coastal erosion, those who will suffer from heat-related deaths in inner-city communities, and those who are already struggling to meet the price of their weekly food shop.

Investment in infrastructure must target impoverished areas to improve climate adaptions whilst providing green jobs to poorer communities. Local programmes such as food banks, community centers and helplines should continue to receive the same level of funding as they were pre-crisis, despite the national debt, in order to avoid growing insecurity for low-income households. Greater security will reduce the risks associated with extreme weather and reduce the risk of widening inequality even further.

Thank you for taking the time to consider these actions.

Kind regards,

Contact Details for The Chancellor of the Exchequer:

Name:  Rishi Sunak

Address: Unit 1, Omega Business Village, Northallerton DL6 2NJ

Telephone: 01609 765330


This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Country Manager: Zara Holden

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