Climate Justice

Summary Jan/Feb 2009 Issue of New Internationalist

Jan/Feb 2009 - Issue 419 New Internationalist

The impending climate crisis will make the financial meltdown look like a teddy bear's picnic - and it's the world's poor and marginalized who will suffer the most. We know what's coming, and we have the means to prevent it. And yet we're just staring climate oblivion in the face. As the world continues to belch out greenhouse gases, and governments and corporations champion false solutions, a movement for climate justice is building. Its aim is to tackle perhaps the greatest challenge of our troubled times - how we can dramatically reduce global emissions while at the same time raising the quality of life for the majority of the world's people. This magazine will explore what can be done.

Four principles for climate justice

Climate change, caused by human activities, is threatening the lives and livelihoods of billions of people and the existence of millions of species. We need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions dramatically, while at the same time raising the quality of life for the majority of the world's people.


The burden of adjustment to the climate crisis must be borne by those who created it. This means:

  • A 90 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from industrialized countries by 2050.
  • An end to over-production for over-consumption, and a dramatic reduction in wasteful consumption by Northern and Southern élites.
  • Financial support from the North to the South to help with the cost of adjusting to the effects of climate change and continuing to develop along sustainable lines. This transfer of wealth should be based on the principle that the rich world owes the poor world an 'ecological debt', and it must be subject to democratic control.


Climate change is caused by burning fossil fuels. We need to stop it at source. Leave the coal in the hole, the oil in the soil. Invest instead in energy efficiency and a massive expansion of community-controlled renewable energy.


Climate solutions should actually work, and not create further problems. This means:

  • Ending the aggressive promotion of false solutions such as carbon trading, agro-fuels and geo-engineering. These allow the rich to avoid their responsibility to make major changes; help corporations to increase their profits; and have negative knock-on effects on the world's poor and the planet's ecosystem. And they don't prevent further climate change.
  • Planning and executing a just transition to a low-carbon society that protects people’s rights, jobs and well-being.


Natural resources must be conserved for the common good, not privatized and unsustainably exploited. People’s sovereignty over land, energy, forests and water must be upheld and reclaimed.