Global Spotlight Report #30: Countries Around the World Grapple with Climate Justice

Introduction

Justice is a growing and important theme of efforts to address climate change around the world. Climate justice is a term used to frame global warming as an ethical and political issue, rather than one that is purely environmental or physical in nature. An important concern related to climate justice is that those who are least responsible for climate change suffer its gravest consequences. Communities of color, women, indigenous groups, and people of low-income all face an increased vulnerability to climate change. They possess few, if any, adaptive resources. People living in poverty or in precarious circumstances tend to have neither the resources nor the insurance coverage necessary to recover from environmental disasters. On top of that, such populations often receive an unequal share of disaster relief and recovery assistance. Additionally, they generally have less say and involvement in decision-making, political, and legal processes that relate to climate change and the natural environment.

In Post 30, Climate Scorecard Country Managers from around the world report the issues of climate justice in their countries and what climate-related actions their countries are taking to address the needs of their most vulnerable populations. Here are some excerpts from several of our Post 30 Country Posts.

In the United States systemic racism plays a significant role in the distribution of harms from climate impacts. High-emitting generation sources are often cited closer to African American communities than white communities, and American Indian reservations lack access to many resources that could help make them more resilient to the harmful impacts of climate change. Additionally, when disasters strike, communities of color are often underserved by disaster response teams.

In the United Kingdom 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.

In China the divide of who suffers from environmental pollution runs along income and rural-urban lines. And China sees itself internationally as a victim of climate injustices caused by the development in the West.

In Russia the most vulnerable part of the population that can expect the greatest risk of lifestyle changes under the influence of climate change are the indigenous peoples (map of ethnic groups across Russia, in Russian).

In Australia remote Indigenous communities in the country’s north dominate the list of the Australia’s most disadvantaged local government areas, and all of these communities are facing temperature increases between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius by 2050. Also, at risk are three heavily disadvantaged local government areas in the state of South Australia – Port Adelaide, Port Pirie and Berri – that face the brunt of extreme weather events, rising temperatures, decreased rainfall and sea level rise but are ill-equipped to deal with the costs of climate damage.

In South Africa the ability to adapt to climate change may be characterised by the same inequalities that have become the fault lines of society. Rural dwellers who are already prone to geopolitical and economic marginalization are predominantly affected by climate change

In Turkey Kurdish cities also are especially affected by the climate crisis as water sources in their region often get sacrificed to dams and hydroelectric power plants. Farmers and villagers also are among the most vulnerable groups in the climate crisis in Turkey. These communities have to struggle with issues such as faulty irrigation techniques, lack of an integrated and health and food policy, soil destruction caused by industrial agriculture and the inability to compete with imported products.

In Brazil the persistent lack of representativeness of gender and race among the Brazil’s decision-makers makes it difficult for Brazil to address issues of climate justice.

In Saudi Arabia Smallholder farmers and fishermen are particularly at risk to the effects of climate change because they rely on the environment for their livelihoods.  Also Lastly, lower-income groups living in the cities are susceptible to infectious diseases brought on by extreme weather events that have become more common under climate change and poor sanitation infrastructure, such as the 2009 Jeddah flood and other extreme weather events.


Country Reports

Australians Living on Low-Incomes Have the Fewest Protections from Climate Change Impacts

In 2013 the now-defunct National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility raised the spectre of climate risks to disadvantaged Australians. Three heavily disadvantaged local government areas in the state of South Australia – Port Adelaide, Port Pirie and Berri – face the brunt of extreme weather events, rising temperatures, decreased rainfall and sea level rise but…

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Representation in Politics is Essential for Brazil’s Promotion of Climate Justice

All around the world governments are experiencing the demand for intersectionality as a fundamental principle in environmental decision-making. That is to say, inequity needs to be considered when public policies are created in order to address both social justice and environmental issues. This is particularly relevant for Brazil, that, as a developing country, often sees…

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Canada is Responding to the Need of Climate Justice in Indigenous Communities

Climate justice’s intention is to offer fair treatment and a balanced share of social, environmental and economic benefits across populations. Without a climate justice lens, climate legislation risks may worsen the already deficient gap between the wealthy creating more emissions and those of lower income limited in financing improved energy performance to access rebates or…

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Climate Justice in China

China is home to 55 ethnic minorities. While many live in rural areas affected by poverty and lack of employment opportunity, environmental or climate (in)justices are not exclusive to them. The divide of who suffers from environmental pollution runs along income and rural-urban lines. And China sees itself internationally as a victim of climate injustices…

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Overseas Populations and Poor People Most Threatened by Climate Change in France

Thanks to its geographical location and high level of economic development, France is by some measure less impacted by climate change than many other parts of the world. France has, however, a range of regions and populations at risk of suffering disproportionately from the changing climate. Many parts of French territories are poised to experience…

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Germany Needs Increased Research on the Indirect Impacts of Climate Change

In Germany, Climate Justice or “Klimagerechtigkeit” is defined as the right for every human being to ‘use’ the atmosphere without greatly impacting it. It is related to having a responsibility towards the society or the world as a whole. The consequences of climate change for individual groups or regions in Germany are not necessarily equal;…

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India’s Indigenous Peoples are Key Constituents in Climate Action

India is a large country with interspersed legacy and identity largely driven out of its people and their natural habitats. The country has 705 ethnic groups recognised as Scheduled Tribes. which literally means ‘Indigenous Peoples.1  There are, however, many more ethnic groups that would qualify for Scheduled Tribe status but which are not officially recognised….

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Extreme Weather Events Surfaces Climate Needs of Elderly and Those Living Near Flood-Prone Areas in Japan

Over the past decade, Japan has experienced a variety of record-breaking extreme weather events, confirming how catastrophic climate change is. Japan is a country prone to disasters and rains, which has grown increasingly intense in recent years due to global warming. The most recent example is the torrential rain caused in Kyushu in July 2020….

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Mexico Needs Better Policies to Address Climate Justice

Climate justice addresses the needs of those who are least responsible for climate change and often suffer the gravest of its consequences. People living in poverty or in precarious circumstances tend to have neither the resources nor the insurance coverage necessary to recover from environmental disasters. On top of that, such populations often receive an…

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The Impact of Climate Change on Indigenous Peoples Has Received Little Attention in Russia

The most vulnerable part of the Russian population that can expect the greatest risk of lifestyle changes under the influence of climate change are the indigenous peoples (map of ethnic groups across Russia, in Russian). The Russian indigenous peoples’ movement represents 40 indigenous peoples.  As this map indicates the majority of Russia’s indigenous peoples’ population…

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Climate Justice in Saudi Arabia Should be Targeted at Smallholder Farmers, Fishermen, and Low-Income Urban Dwellers

Smallholder farmers and fishermen are particularly at risk to the effects of climate change because they rely on the environment for their livelihoods. Saudi Arabia is already a country with sparse water resources, and by 2100, field and vegetable crops are expected to require 10-13% more water because of changes in temperature and carbon dioxide…

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Rural Dwellers, Already Prone to Geopolitical and Economic Marginalization, are Predominantly Affected by Climate Change in South Africa

South Africa is ranked as the second most inequitable country in the world. South Africa’s vulnerability to climate change is exacerbated by the economic inequality, poverty, and our current dependency on coal-fired power generation. The ability to adapt to climate change may be characterised by the same inequalities that have become the fault lines of…

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Spanish Climate Migrants Strongly Correlated with Climate Justice

Much of Spain is at risk for climate disasters and changing landscapes over the coming decades, yet most of their climate justice efforts still focus on emerging economies rather than their home country. This focus re-purposes leftover enthusiasm for the COP25, hosted in Madrid in December 2019, and also stems from the fact that Spain…

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There is A Need to Organize an Effective Opposition for Climate Justice in Turkey

The concept of climate justice is quite new to social movements in Turkey. There are many demographic segments in the country that are vulnerable and are affected by ecological destruction and the climate crisis. These vulnerable communities also take longer and are more difficult to recover from environmental damages. For example, in the most recent…

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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…

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The Link Between Systemic Racism and Climate Change in the US

In the United States, the greatest burden of climate impacts are disproportionately borne by low-income communities of color. Extreme weather events like storms, wildfires, floods, and heat waves cause health problems and property damage across the U.S. Low-income communities often lack funding to rebuild quickly from disasters and ensure resilience to future ones, and for…

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Climate Justice Concerns Amongst Ethnic Communities in Northern Thailand

A report published in August 2018 shows how climate justice concerns have impacted the “adaptation of girls and young women in ethnic and linguistic minority communities in Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai provinces in Northern Thailand.” “Data was collected from six schools and six villages across nine different locations in the districts of Mae Fah…

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