Address climate injustice urgently

Monday May 6 2019


By Fr Lazar Arasu

You say you love your children above all else and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes. Until you start focusing on what needs to be done rather than what is politically possible.” These are words of Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teen and a popular environmental activist.

Her September 2018 speech in BBC went viral in social media. It was effectively delivered after her climate strike made outside the Swedish Parliament.

Greta continued, “Our civilisation is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amount of money. Our biosphere is being sacrifice so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of many that pay for the luxuries of the few… Until you start focusing on what needs to be done, rather than what is politically possible, there is no hope. We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis.”

We live in a global village. The reality is both positive and negative. Life in a village is often shared. The problem of one person often becomes problem for everyone. It is very true of environment issues. Pollution created by one person is always suffered by the rest of the people in the village. Deforestation, contamination of water, pollution of air, etc, is always shared by everyone. Everyone becomes a victim of environmental wrong committed by one or a few people.

In the same way, unfortunately in the global scene, the effects of climate change are felt most acutely by people who are least responsible for causing the problem. Communities in the global South (majority of them form the third world countries), suffer the environmental crimes committed by the industrialised North, the rich and affluent countries who over consume our of planet’s resources.

The people of the South have least access to resources (though they have resources, but are unable to exploit them) and technology to adapt to the consequences and to act to reduce their emissions.
Climate justice means addressing the climate crisis while also making progress towards equity and the protection and realisation of human rights. Justice should begin with the individuals, small communities, nations and the universe as whole.

Fortunately, more and more we are becoming conscious that the environment crisis of today is caused by injustice at all levels—international, national and up to the grassroots level in any given community. Injustices are enshrined in the political systems that favour the small minority of the elite and chosen class of people and discriminating and oppressing a vast majority of people.

Justice delayed is justice denied. Climate injustice needs to be addressed as an emergency; delay will surely cause catastrophe for everyone. As it addresses the injustice, it should promote equity and protection and realisation of human rights.

Earth and its resources are meant for everyone, not just for the elite and those already developed. One of the concrete ways of protecting environment is to go fossil free by 2030 and find alternative source of energy.

Fr Lazar Arasu,