Updated: May 24, 2022
So, what’s the difference between the widely used phrase “climate justice” and the climate of justice?
The climate of justice and climate justice refer to quite different areas of concern. Climate justice refers to the unequal distribution of the harms of global warming and other forms of planetary destruction. In many cases, the global economy that has caused our current climate crisis has benefited some at the expense of many others. Also, poor and many non-Western communities have fewer resources than Western communities to change their social practices, so climate justice entails helping those most impacted and least able to deal with the changing global environment.
The climate of justice, on the other hand, refers to a social context in which people tend to act with fairness toward one another and the earth, and expect to live in reciprocal relationships. In a climate of justice, people design social structures that protect the vulnerable and restrain the arrogant.
The notion of a climate of justice does not understand justice as particular actions, although a climate of justice would encourage such acts. Nor does a climate of justice refer to individual virtues, although individuals existing in a climate of justice would have a disposition toward justice since the climate itself disposes them to seek justice. It’s best understood as a social context in which we expect fairness because that’s what people tend to do in such situations.
The problem is really simple: We need a climate of justice to deal with the growing trends of social and planetary disintegration, but we live, for the most part, in a climate in injustice caused by the Atlantic commerce of enslaved and dislocated people. People of privilege, of course, have adjusted to this climate because we have received more than we deserve. For others, the opposite is true. The fact is that we have never sufficiently addressed these injustices and they now prevent us from joining together to change the current trends that are destroying our human habitat. The purpose of this project is to work on this problem.
The climate of justice project does not compete or replace the work on climate justice. It adds another area of concern to the conversation. It examines the causes of the climate of injustice—such as white supremacy —and seeks to change them.