The Climate Crisis is :
A refugee issue.
Millions of people will be forced to flee from their homes.
A racial issue.
People of colour are affected disproportionately. Especially those living in the Global South.
A human rights issue.
Extreme weather events and climatic changes deny vulnerable people of fundamental rights.
A feminist issue.
Women are affected disproportionately to men.
Intersectionality is the understanding that different dynamics of oppression, power and privilege overlap and affect each other.
either we are all equal
or none of us are.
When talking about the Climate Crisis we must recognise that some of us benefit from certain privileges that others do not. Some of us suffer in ways that others do not. We must acknowledge our privileges, refuse to hide behind them and fight alongside those who have no choice. An intersectional understanding of these privileges recognises that our experience of dynamics of oppression (whether they be racial or gendered amongst others) is unique to each individual. The experience of a woman of colour may be different to that of a man of colour, for example.
A RACIAL ISSUE
Between developed and developing countries.
The greenhouse gases that have triggered the Climate Crisis have been emitted predominantly by developed countries situated in the Global North to support affluent, consumer lifestyles. (1)
However, the effects of climatic change are being felt and will be felt most strongly by developing nations, indigenous communities and those in the Global South. The world's already most marginalised and disadvantaged people are the most vulnerable to extreme weather events and are often dependant on the environment to support their livelihood through agriculture, fishing etc. (2)
It is easy to discuss Climate Change, nuances of international policy and questions of economics, sitting in a developed country in the Global North that does not face the same threats as people in the Global South do. The 2018 heatwave made headlines in Europe and the US, and was even welcomed by some as a refreshing kick of summer heat. It was in places like Pakistan where 60 people died, mostly labourers working in intense heat up to 44 degrees C. (3)
Between ethnicities and classes.
The effects of global heating and air pollution are being and will be felt more by poorer communities and people of colour who are forced to breathe dirty air as their homes are often situated near to power plants and refineries. In the US, people of colour are 3 times more likely to die from air pollution than the rest of the population. (4)
Indigenous communities often maintain closer economic and spiritual links to their land and are therefore highly sensitive to changes in the ecosystem. We recognise and value Indigenous understandings of their environments and their experiences of dispossession and violence from (neo)colonial conservation practices. We aim to decolonise the environmental movement by making space for multiple different voices and recognising our own privileges and power.
injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Martin luther king jr
A REFUGEE ISSUE
By the end of 2016, 5.2 million refugees and migrants reached Europe. It was called a crisis. (1)
The UN predicts there will up to 1 billion climate refugees by 2050. (2)
The Climate Crisis is a Refugee Crisis like no other.
Rising sea levels, frequent floods, desertification and extreme weather events will all force people to leave their homes in search of a stable and safe place to live. This may be a prediction but it is undisputed. It is important to recognise that those who will have to leave their homes are those who already live in more precarious situations. Problems relating to overcrowding of cities, ethnic tensions due to migration and the economic impacts of refugee influxes that are often debated about in the Global North will all become more fierce.
refuse to be an accomplice. simone weil
A human rights ISSUE
Right to life.
All humans of the Earth have a right to life, freedom and security. Extreme weather events and climatic changes directly threatens the existence of entire communities all over the world, though most prominently in the Global South.
Typhoon Yolanda, Philippines, 2013 : 10,000 lives lost.
Heatwave, Europe, 2003 : 35,000 lives lost.
The World Health Organisation predicts that 250,000 lives will be lost every year due to disease, malnutrition and heat stress directly resulting from climate change. (1)
Right to health.
We are all meant to enjoy a right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. The air we breathe is polluted. The water we drink is polluted. Climatic changes and increases in temperature threaten global food security and increases the risk of disease transmission. (2)
Right to water and sanitation.
We have a right to safe, drinkable water and to sanitation that ensures our good health. Melting ice, reduced rainfall and temperature increase amongst other factors are affecting the quantity and quality of fresh water we have available.
Access to drinkable water is already a global struggle, and climate change will only make it worse. Again, it is those who are already vulnerable who face the greatest risks while those of us who are already in privileged positions are guaranteed more safety. (3)
Right to housing.
We have a right to an adequate standard of living with secure housing. Read more about how climate change threatens our right to housing in the refugee section.
To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity. Nelson mandela
A feminist ISSUE
Women and girls are disproportionately affected by environmental changes. They are hit the hardest and have the least influence in making changes. (1)
Women make up the majority of the world's poor and are responsible for most of the agricultural work in many countries. They are personally and economically more vulnerable to lost harvests and drought amongst other climatic changes.
Around the world it is mostly women who bear primary care responsibilities for families and communities, and as resources become scarce, they will have to step up and increase the level of care they provide. (2)
A study by the London School of Economics has shown that women are more likely to be killed by natural disasters than men. (3)
The United Nations Framework for Climate Change formally recognises that women are uniquely vulnerable to climatic changes. However, within the European Union, it is estimated that women only hold around 1/4 of climate-related decision-making positions. (4)