CLIMATE JUSTICE AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
We understand climate change as a historical development. The beginning of colonialism in 1492 also marks the beginning of processes that led to large-scale greenhouse gas emissions. Forests were cleared for industrial agriculture, plantations and mineral extraction. People and ecosystems in the Global South were understood and exploited as natural resources. The burning of fossil fuels is considered the basis of the industrial revolution, but it was actually slavery and colonialism which ignited industrialization.
The term climate (in)justice describes the discrepancy between responsibility for climate change and being affected by climate change impacts. The global North is responsible for more than ¾ of historical greenhouse gas emissions. This emission debt continues to grow daily: per capita CO2 emissions are as high in Germany in two weeks as in Ethiopia in four years. Nevertheless, it is countries of the Global South that are most affected by climate change impacts and are 2-3 times more vulnerable to climate change impacts. Ethiopia, for example, has been experiencing climaterelated extreme weather events for years. Especially women*/ trans/ inter-positioned people in the Global South are acutely affected by climate change impacts. Also, in countries of the Global North BIPoC are disproportionately affected by climate change impacts. Structural and institutional racism makes access to the housing market and health care system more difficult. Studies from the USA show a significantly higher mortality rate among black people, indigenous people and People of Color due to extreme weather events such as heat waves and hurricanes.
The term environmental injustice describes the disproportionate burden of environmental pollution on marginalized communities, for example through landfills, the petrochemical industry (oil and gas) and other polluting industries. In the USA, black environmental justice movements coined the term environmental racism in the early 1980s and protested against the dumping of toxic waste at the expense of Black communities and Communities of Color. The Global South as well as Black, Indigenous and Community and Color have been the ultimate sacrifice zone (see Frantz Fanon: zone of none-being) for the externalities of the economic, production and lifestyle systems of the Global North for more than five centuries. The entire and continuing history of colonial domination and violence has resulted in the Global South being burdened with the most toxic and deadly externalities of the Western economy and production system – the climate crisis exacerbates this injustice.
At present, supposed solutions for environmental and climate protection are being presented at the political and civil society level which conceal the fact that the resources and materials required for this continue to perpetuate (neo)colonial extractivism and ecological destruction in the Global South. The climate crisis is a systemic crisis – true solutions require a turning away from racist, capitalist, sexist ways of production and living. The aim of climate protection must be that all human beings, animals and plants can continue to exist. For this, the economy in the Global North must shrink. We BIPoC – who are localized and socialized in the Global North (with all the privileges that come with it) must fight against these sham solutions, because they follow the same western principles that got us into this mess in the first place.
Working for a climate-just world also means dealing with racism and colonialism. In 2018 alone 207 murders of environmental defenders were documented, almost all of them in countries of the Global South. We need an intersectional climate movement, with decolonial, queer-feminist and ecological perspectives.
We call for:
• Solidarity with environmental activists in the Global South
• The end of this exploitative production, economic system and way of life at the expense of ecosystems and people in the Global South
• Compensation for historical greenhouse gas emissions and their impacts
• The recognition of climate change as a reason for migration
• Equal participation of people and countries of the Global South in all climate policy bodies and processes
• A policy-process that involves and thinks along with all marginalized people: these are, among others, Black people, People of Color, people without residential status, queer and trans*inter, non-binary positioned people, people who are physically challenged, young and old people, …
• Ecosystem Perspectives
To tackle the climate crisis at its root, we must think of all forms of oppression at the same time.