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From COVID-19 to Climate: Lessons for Climate Justice

From COVID-19 to Climate: Lessons for Climate Justice

The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing deep inequalities in race and economic status, and the inadequacy of the nation’s social safety nets. Still, the massive social disruption caused by the pandemic offers important lessons to consider as we craft strategies for aggressive climate action.

Historically, the U.S. environmental movement has largely failed to consider how the creation of strong social safety nets is critical to our mission. More than ever, we must assume this responsibility if we hope to build a just, equitable and livable future for all.

Now is the time. The environmental movement is undergoing a fundamental shift in the way it understands and responds to environmental problems. It is no longer publicly acceptable to endorse and forward policies to address climate change that do not account for existing inequalities and the potential to exacerbate them unless deliberate actions are taken. “Equity” is the (new) buzzword among national environmental organizations. However, “equity” can be seen as difficult to define and while everyone is in favor of it, interpretations of the term vary widely meaning implementation of an equitable climate policy can be abstract and ad hoc.

The political realities of living under a pandemic offer important insights for environmental advocates to consider as we develop priorities for what successful climate action looks like.