Nomhle, what does the path to a climate-just world look like?

Anyone who speaks of the climate crisis and climate protection must also speak of climate justice. For the climate crisis is first and foremost a crisis of justice that burdens above all those who contribute least to it. How the voices of the Global South and the „most affected people and areas“ (short for MAPA) can be integrated into the call for just climate protection and how answers to the big question of climate justice can be found is explained by Nomhle Senene, climate/environmental and social justice activist from the Global South, in the tenth part of our article series „Summer of Utopias“. This article is available in both English and German. For the german version, please click here.

As the world is experiencing the effects of the climate crisis, we have seen the importance for climate action to be taken urgently. With all the impacts of the climate crisis taking place the Global South and MAPA (Most Affected People and Areas) have been most impacted by the climate crisis, and still continue to be. For me an essential part of tackling the climate crisis and keeping temperatures below 1.5 degrees includes an important take on climate justice.

To achieve this also means to achieve a climate just world, where no one is left behind in tackling the climate crisis. For me a climate just world starts with the acknowledgment of the Global South voices and MAPA voices in firstly addressing the climate crisis and having conversations around it. Understanding the impacts the Global South and MAPA face and including their voices. The Global South and MAPA are most impacted by the climate crisis while they have contributed very little to the climate crisis, while the Global North has contributed the most to the climate crisis. A climate just world also includes the acknowledgement of the debt the Global North has to the Global South for the historical contribution to the climate crisis, this also includes reparations which are anti-rasist to the Global South. 

The climate crisis is in link with social justice issues, as the climate crisis is just a symptom of a broken symptom. Acknowledging the social issues as well while tackling the climate crisis is an important step towards a climate just world. While working towards a climate just world we need to actively tackle systems of oppression that are also exacerbated by the climate crisis, we need to acknowledge the role of colonialism and capitalism that has also contributed to the climate crisis. One important aspect of moving to a climate just world is that any action that will be taken towards tackling the climate crisis should be just and equitable. Making sure that the actions taken will impact everyone positively and not have a negative impact on marginalised groups and people.

Important issues that should also be addressed in moving towards a climate just world is environmental racism. The effects of environmental racism have and still continue to negatively impact communities and people of color. Even with moving to a just climate world it’s important to tackle such systems of oppression, making sure that it is just and will not continue to oppress these communities and people and that all these changes or transitions are anti-rasist in nature, moving away from the culture of environmental racism or changes and transitions which are racist in nature, impacting these communities which is not equal in line with achieving a just climate world or just climat transition. 

Just climate transitions need to be just in nature and should not include any greenwashing in trying to promote them towards the public or society. Climate policies should be structured in keeping in mind marginalised communities and most affected people by the climate crisis and make sure that their policies will not affect them negatively or become costly to these communities and people. 

Giving Indeigiouse people’s lands back is very important and crucial in a climate just world. Listening to Indeigiouse people and acklowending how the climate crisis affects their communities.Learning for Indiegiouse knowledge and understanding how they have positively impacted the environment for centuries and their role in tackling the climate crisis. This also means including Indiegouse voices in climate conversations, in climate change policy making, and in action taking against climate change.

The term net-zero has been talked about alot in a just climate transition to a cleaner greener future.And what we need to see and have is real-zero, making sure the this transition is just and does not affect or impact certain communities in a negative way that is not just or equitable and only benefits an elect few. 

Making the changes that will occur affordable to the public. Changes that will occur during a just climate world need to be affordable and keep in mind the different income classes, especially low to middle income classes, that the changes will not be difficult or expensive to adapt to the changes that will occur. 

In moving towards a climate just world and in a climate just world the inclusion of the Global South and MAPA is important and crucial. Excluding the Global South and MAPA will not result in a climate just world. Only including a certain elect will not be just and would not be paying the debt back to the Global South. This also includes the inclusion of the Global South and MAPA in adaptation efforts and funds.

A just climate world involves a lot of important aspects that need to be included and tackled in order to make the world a just climate world for everyone and not a select few. Moving towards one is important and empty words or promises won’t lead to one. The importance of not excluding the Global South and MAPA in the lead up to one and in a climate just world. The importance of achieving climate justice and ackowlingind the social issues and tackling them. We are in this fight against climate change together and standing together and actively fighting systems of oppression is essential. 

About the author: Nomhle Senene is a climate/environmental and social justice activist from South Africa and is involved with Fridays for Future international, among others.

You can find a translation of this text here.

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