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Climate Justice, Environmental Justice, and the Sustainable Development Goals

Climate Change is the outstanding moral, ethical, and survival issue of our time. Climate
Justice is the issue to solve that, while the poor have done the least to cause the climate
crisis (because they burn only small amounts of fossil fuel), they suffer the most from
climate impacts (because they are vulnerable and have few resources for adaptation).
Climate justice explicitly includes climate mitigation needed to help stop climate change
from causing these injustices.

Intergenerational Equity, part of climate justice, is the issue of our moral responsibility
towards our descendants, who have clearly done nothing to cause climate change, but
who will suffer from the increasingly severe climate impacts that will hit them if we do
not act robustly on climate mitigation soon. What do we want for our legacy?

Climate Justice including Intergenerational Equity is a Survival issue. Moreover, if
robust action is not taken, climate change will hurt not only the poor and vulnerable, but
also most all people - there will be no place to hide.

People of faith and ethical leaders worldwide are standing up for Climate Change
Action. Also scientists and responsible media are standing up against attacks on
climate science by right-wing contrarians - who attack science to prevent climate
action and thus obstruct climate justice.

Climate justice is related to Environmental Justice. Environmental justice typically
involves ameliorating human-caused pollution that affects vulnerable poor people the
worst. For example, the environmental justice issue of fossil-fuel pollution (e.g.
NOx/SOx) impacting health would not exist if fossil fuels were eliminated, AND the shift
away from fossil fuels is essential for mitigating climate change to achieve climate
justice. Although climate justice is related to and has overlap with environmental justice,
environmental justice does not "contain" climate justice - that is, environmental justice is
not broader than climate justice. Actually human-caused climate change in all its
aspects - including a possible eventual threat to civilization - is much bigger than the
environmental issues commonly included in environmental justice, important as those
are. Conversely some environmental justice issues (e.g. hazardous chemical wastes in
superfund sites) are not directly related to climate change. Both climate justice and
environmental justice concepts are needed, and they are linked together.

There are of course also myriad other justice issues (social justice, racial justice ...). All
the justice issues form a "whole". Whatever justice issue is our particular passion, each of
us should make linkages to the other justice issues, since justice issues are interrelated. In
particular, since climate change action can get lost in the list of justice issues, it is
important that there can be no long-term solution to any justice issue without a solution
to the climate change problem.

Climate justice, environmental justice, and other justice issues are all interrelated through
the broad Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in 2015 by the UN General
Assembly with 194 countries (including the US). The SDGs comprise a powerful
framework for justice. Organizations might consider adopting the SDGs as a
general moral, ethical, and survival platform.

Above essay by Jan Dash

File = Essay CJ_EJ_SDGs_DASH_Oct2017.docx; 10/9/17 9:35 PM