9 – Climate Justice

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This week we’ll be diving into the topics of climate justice and environmental racism to help us build the conceptual foundations required to identify the existing inequalities climate change stands to exacerbate.

Intro to Environmental Justice

Grist: Environmental justice, explained

Theories of Justice & Difference

Isabel Wilkerson: Caste

Amartya Sen on Justice & Injustice

Rawls’ Theory of Justice

(See optional IPCC chapter for discussion on connections to climate action)

Historical Background on Environmental Justice

The Rise of the Environmental Justice Paradigm

“The environmental experiences of people of color differ markedly from that of Whites; therefore, it is not surprising that their environmental activism, agendas, and paradigms differ from those constructed by middle- and working-class Whites…” 

Click on hyperlinked article. Read p.533-537, p.539-541 (Outline) and p.543-545 (Table 6)

January 2000 • American Behavioral Scientist 

Environmental Principles & Environmental Justice

“One characteristic of environmental law and policy is the central role that so-called environmental principles play in the shaping of decisions, formulation of policies and governance in general…” 

Read intro and conclusion and at least one other section

April 20, 2010 • Environmental Law Review 

A Winning Hand? The Uncertain Future of Environmental Justice

“During its halcyon legislative days in the 1970s, the public face of environmentalism was overwhelmingly white and middle class. Minority politicians provided reliable votes for environmental statutes but were often acutely suspicious of mainstream environmentalism, believing the urban poor a more endangered species than spotted owls…”

March 1, 1996 • Brookings

Keys, Terms, Concepts & Principles

Climate Change Vulnerability and Primer on Social Inequities and the Role of Government

Many factors in uence community and individual sensitivity to climate impacts and their ability to adapt to climate change…”

Read p. 11-18

May 2017 • Urban Sustainability Directors Network

Unequal Impact: The Deep Links Between Racism and Climate Change

“The killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans have cast stark new light on the racism that remains deeply embedded in U.S. society. It is as present in matters of the environment as in other aspects of life: Both historical and present-day injustices have left people of color exposed to far greater environmental health hazards than whites…

June 9, 2020 • Yale e360

Slow Violence

“Environmentalists face a fundamental challenge: How can we devise arresting stories, images, and symbols that capture the pervasive but elusive effects of what I call “slow violence”? Climate change, the thawing cryosphere, toxic drift, deforestation, the radioactive aftermaths of wars, oil spills, acidifying oceans, and a host of other slowly unfolding environmental crises confront us with formidable representational obstacles that hinder efforts to mobilize for change…

June 16, 2011 • The Chronicle

Transformations to Sustainability

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlight how transformations to sustainable economies and societies are a major global challenge. This Working Paper offers a brief overview of different conceptual approaches to transformation, and outlines a set of practical principles for effective research and action towards sustainability...

2018 • STEPS Centre

From White Privilege to White Supremacy: An Illustrated Interview with Laura Pulido

“Working at the intersection of geography and ethnic studies, Laura Pulido has researched issues around environmental justice, social movements, racial and class oppression, and radical tourism. Her early work has shown how white residents fled from Los Angeles to escape environmental hazards, putting others, particularly people of color, in harm’s way…”

Only annotated illustrations required

October 12, 2019 • University of Wisconsin-Madison

Q&A: A Human Rights Expert Hopes Covid-19, Climate Change and Racial Injustice Are a ‘Wake-Up Call.’

But Philip Alston, a New York University law professor and former U.N. Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, fears ‘a sort of crisis fatigue’…”

June 10, 2020 • InsideClimate News

Climate Adaptation Plans Can Worsen Unequal Urban Vulnerability

“The Rockefeller Foundation announced its third and final set of its ‘Resilient Cities’, rounding out a group of 100 cities that have demonstrated success in and commitment to enhancing resilience to climate change and other natural or man-made disasters, among other urban challenges…”

June 19, 2016 • The Nature of Cities

Knowing doing governing: realizing heterodyne democracies

See Table 12.1 (pages 38-40 at the end of the doc)

2016 • Palgrave Macmillan

Personal Narratives

Read (or watch) at least ONE personal narrative

Who is the We in ‘We Are Causing Climate Change?’

“People writing on climate change really like to use the word we. ‘We could have prevented global warming in the ’80s.’ ‘We are emitting more carbon dioxide than ever.’ ‘We need to ramp up solutions to the climate crisis’…” 

October 10, 2018 • Slate

What Listening Means in the Time of the Climate Crisis

“Koko’s fingers move through the bit of tobacco I’ve handed her, sifting to an answer. The afternoon sun dapples the lines on her cheeks. I’ve asked about giniw, the golden eagle who flies between the world of the living and the spirit world beyond the veil…” 

September 18, 2019 • Literary Hub

Discourse and Debate: Is performative activism inherently bad?

“On Columbia’s campus, accusations of performative activism are often thrown around. What is performative activism? Is it ever beneficial? When does it become harmful and how does this harm materialize…”

March 26, 2019 • Columbia Spectator

Climate Change Ain’t the First Existential Threat

Dear Climate Movement: I’m with you when you say that climate change is the most important issue facing humankind. I’ll even go so far as to say it’s the most important one ever. But when I hear folks say — and I have heard it — that the environmental movement is the first in history to stare down an existential threat, I have to get off the train...”

February 18, 2019 • Medium

Black Lives Matter & Environmental Justice are Connected

Case Studies

Read at least ONE case study theme

International Agreements & Global Climate Justice

Climate justice: Vulnerability and protection

“The central question I explored is: How can we limit the dangers from climate change without driving hundreds of millions of people into poverty…” 

Read p.4-7 and p.13-14

2014 • Oxford University Press

What the West Doesn’t Get

The new novel by award-winning Indian author Amitav Ghosh, Gun Island, uses climate change as a backdrop. He tells DW about the different perceptions of the climate crisis in the East and West…” 

June 11, 2019 • Deutsche Welle

Just Transition from Fossil Fuels

Oil, Gas, and the Effects of Environmental Racism

Appalachia is transitioning from coal. Here’s what it could learn from Germany

“Gregor Krantz went to work in the Ruhr Valley mines when he was 16. It was the 1960s, when becoming a miner in Germany’s historic coal region was still considered ‘the job of the future,’ Krantz said...”

October 16, 2019 • Southerly

Renewable Technologies & Conflict Minerals

Green Conflict Minerals

“The mining sector will play a key role in the transition toward a low-carbon future. The technologies required to facilitate this shift, including wind turbines, solar panels and improved energy storage, all require significant mineral and metal inputs, and, absent any dramatic technological advances or an increase in the use of recycled materials, these inputs will come from the mining sector...”

Read 1 case study & recommendations

August 2018 • International Institute for Sustainable Development

Enough Project: Conflict Minerals 101

Climate Migration & Managed Retreat

We Need to Talk About a Planned Retreat from Climate Disaster Zones Now

“Communities globally are already engaged in the thorny process of relocating because of climate change. Experts say we need to talk about a managed retreat now, so that it doesn’t become a nightmare...”

September 20, 2019 • Vice

A Rights-Based Approach to Climate Forced Relocation in Alaska

Land Use & Development

The NIMBY Principle

“The advocacy group Livable California has led the resistance to the state’s biggest housing proposals. What’s their appeal for ‘local control’ really about...”

July 26, 2019 • CityLab

HuffPost: How Climate Change is Gentrifying Housing in Miami

Food Justice

Food and Race: 10 Years of Creating a More Just Food System

“Four food justice leaders talk about what has changed in the broader movement to support food workers, farmers of color, and other marginalized communities...”

December 10, 2019 • Civil Eats

TEDx: Food movements, climate resilience, social change

Cap-and-Trade and REDD+

Justice glitches and technical fixes in conservation projects

“In the last decade, ambitious initiatives have been launched to address climate change and development – the Paris Agreement and the Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) are two. However, projects borne from these programs have often been met with suspicion and protest on the ground…” 

May 8, 2018 • CIFOR Forest News

Cap-and-trade? Not so great if you are black or brown

“Environmental justice advocates have long warned that ‘cap-and-trade’ — a market-based strategy to reduce climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions — could hurt low-income communities of color. A preliminary report on California’s cap-and-trade program shows they just might be right…” 

September 16, 2016 • Grist

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Optional Resources

ProPublica: A Brief History of Environmental Justice

A Racial Justice Guide

“This guide is intended for individuals and community groups who are just setting out in their work around racial justice and healing. There is no one correct path to this work. The process of addressing and dismantling systemic injustice is vast and complex, and there are countless different approaches…” 

2018 • IOBY

CBSN: Summer’s social unrest highlights environmental racism in the U.S.

All-In Cities Policy Toolkit

“By putting equity at the center of municipal policies, American cities can help create a future of shared prosperity in which all can participate and thrive. The All-In Cities Toolkit offers actionable strategies that advocates and policymakers can use to advance racial equity…” 

Accessed August 2020 • PolicyLink

IPCC Justice Equity Fairness

“This framing chapter describes the strengths and limitations of the most widely used concepts and methods in economics, ethics, and other social sciences that are relevant to climate change. It also pro- vides a reference resource for the other chapters in the Intergovern- mental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), as well as for decision makers…” 

2014 • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Key Books and Reports on Climate Justice

“With climate activists’ spotlight on liberal Democrats’ Green New Deal as an outline for climate change action comes a new focus on social justice: on the adverse and unequal impacts environmental problems, and sometimes their solutions, can have on historically disadvantaged and underserved communities…” 

February 27, 2019 • Yale Climate Connections

Overview of Urban Spatial Segregation

“Spatial segregation is a feature of metropolises from San Diego to Boston, from Santiago to Cape Town, from Belfast to Bangalore. In some places the segregation is associated primarily with racial groups, in other places, ethnicity or religion, while in still other places, income status…” 

November 2000 • Lincoln Institute

Equity impacts of urban land use planning for climate adaptation: Critical perspectives from the global north and south

“A growing number of cities are preparing for climate change impacts by developing
adaptation plans. However, little is known about how these plans and their implementation affect the vulnerability of the urban poor…”

2016 • Journal of Planning Education and Research

ACE: Climate Change & Climate Justice

Our Communities, Our Power

“The Beloved Community is a vision for our future where all people share equally in the wealth and bounty of the earth, where we protect its abundance, diversity and beauty for future generations. In this vision of liberation, racism, exploitation, and domination are replaced by democracy, cooperation, interdependence, and love…”

2019 • NAACP

CBS: Exposing the Flint Water Crisis

Mapping the frontiers and front lines of global environmental justice: the EJAtlas

2015 • Journal of Political Ecology

Immigration, Climate Change & Food Justice

Roadmap towards justice in urban climate adaptation research

“The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21) highlighted the importance of cities to climate action, as well as the unjust burdens borne by the world’s most disadvantaged peoples in addressing climate impacts…” 

January 2016 • Nature Climate Change

Explaining differential vulnerability to climate change: A social science review

“The varied effects of recent extreme weather events around the world exemplify the uneven impacts of climate change on populations, even within relatively small geographic regions…” 

2019 • Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews