What Does Climate Justice Mean to You?
Climate change affects us all, but sometimes in different ways.
If you asked five different people what they think “equity” means in the context of climate change work, you’d probably get five different answers. Plus, there are so many different equity-infused terms—climate justice, just transition, intergenerational equity, intragenerational equity, economic equity.
What does it all mean? I don’t know. Actually, I have a pretty good idea, but it would take many pages for me to explain it all.
Instead, I’ll touch on the three terms you hear most:
- Intergenerational equity: This is the big one, and although we don’t actually hear the term as much as we should, it is the very basis for all of CoolMom’s work. Intergenerational equity means that humans hold the natural environment of the Earth in common BOTH with other members of the present generation AND with other generations, past and future. We CoolMoms do the work we do because we want a healthy climate for all kids now and all of their kids in the future.
- Climate justice: Climate justice is the fair treatment of all people and freedom from discrimination with the creation of policies and projects that address climate change and the systems that create climate change. This term is so broad that it covers all climate equity issues, but it's often used to mean equity between economic and/or racial groups. Here’s what legitimately drives demands for climate justice—those least responsible for climate change experience the greatest (mostly negative) impacts of climate change and the tools we use to fight it. This is true whether you’re comparing high and low-income communities in your own state or country, or comparing developed and developing nations. Here’s a CoolMom example: who are we to ask parents to walk their kids to school if their neighborhood has no safe sidewalks?
- Just transition: Although the transition from dirty fuels to clean energy will create far more jobs than are lost, we must not ask workers who have helped power our country to bear an unfair portion of the burden of changes that will benefit everybody. A just transition to a clean energy economy will maximize the benefits of climate action while minimizing hardships on particular workers and communities. In practice, this means we need climate policies which avoid unnecessary job loss, create new clean jobs, and help displaced workers to maintain their economic well-being by providing transitional economic assistance, retraining funds, and other forms of support where necessary.
At CoolMom, we represent every mother’s child in our quest for a healthy climate and believe that every family—regardless of income, race, or employment—must be treated fairly. What do you think?
This blog was rerun from an earlier post because the subject is just too important to get buried.
Cheri Cornell is the Executive Director of CoolMom.org. Read more about Cheri and her efforts to fight for our planet here.