A project called ‘Framing climate justice’ describes the ‘story’ of climate justice as follows. Climate change is real and is already happening; the cause of climate change is exploitative systems like capitalism and colonialism; the changing climate increases the injustices that currently exist; those who have done the least to create climate change are the ones suffering the most from its effects; as a global community we need to take direction from those that are most effected (largely countries in the global south); and responsibility for climate change lies with systems and elites, not individuals.
The nature of the problem means that climate justice’s ‘sphere of concern’ is at a global level and we need solutions at every level in order to address this complex problem. To address the historic injustices that lie behind climate change we need to redistribute resources, decentralise power, and offer reparations to exploited communities. Change is possible and the vision is one of abundance where there is enough to go around and people and planet can thrive.
The framing climate justice project researched the attitude of the British public towards the problem. They found that people tend to think that climate change is an unintentional problem without any ‘historical villain’. This is called ‘innocent industrialisation’ – the idea that the founders of the industrial revolution did not know the damage that the release of carbon emissions would cause and are therefore not to blame for climate change. Also, the public tended to see climate change in terms of who is emitting the carbon, rather than the product of economic and political systems. People tended then not to have a historical sense of responsibility for the deliberate social and environmental exploitation that unintentionally created climate change. Finally, the public tended to view human nature as the cause of climate change – the belief that we are inherently greedy and materialistic rather than this being qualities that are nurtured by the capitalist system, or a tendency largely within the power elites within that system.
The project desires to communicate the message that colonialism and capitalism created and continue to drive the climate crisis, and the problem can be solved by redistributing power and letting those most effected give direction in solving the problem.