This week’s top headlines all highlight the intersection between climate justice and social justice. From oil giants funding police groups to monsoon floods in Bangladesh, from racial injustice in the US to murdered land defenders. Read on to find out why we say climate justice is social justice.
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1. Revealed: oil giants are funding powerful police groups in top US cities.
At the height of the #BlackLivesMatter protests last month, we talked about what the climate crisis has to do with racism. This new investigation, by the Public Accountability Initiative, further clarifies these ties. “Some of America’s largest oil and gas companies, private utilities and financial institutions that bankroll fossil fuels also back police foundations – opaque private entities that raise money to pay for training, weapons, equipment, and surveillance technology for departments across the US,” reports The Guardian. These include cities like Seattle, Chicago, Washington, New Orleans and Salt Lake City. “The report portrays the fossil fuel industry as a common enemy in the struggle for racial and environmental justice.” And just who are the companies funding police groups? You’ll find these names familiar, we expect: Chevron, Shell and Marathon Petroleum too.
Read all about it here. And speaking of racial injustice in the US…
2. New research shows that neighbourhoods of colour will be hit the hardest by global warming.
It’s not new information that the climate crisis disproportionately affects communities of colour. But there’s always new research coming in. This one comes from the Union of Concerned Scientists, about extreme heat. It already kills thousands in the US every year and has been happening more often since the mid-20th century. No thanks to climate change. (Most scientists agree that it’s just going to get worse.) The new research found that killer heat is already affecting communities unequally. And it will continue to do so if, by mid-century, we don’t meet our Paris targets.
“The significantly higher exposure to extreme heat is an artefact of where Black people tend to live in the US which is a legacy of slavery,” said senior climate scientist Kristina Dahl, to The Guardian. And it’s not just the US…
3. Bangladesh is in crisis with monsoon floods following the super-cyclone.
Bangladesh is still recovering from super-cyclone Amphan, and now could be going into a humanitarian crisis as it fights through the longest monsoon flooding period in decades. According to those on the ground and the UN, Bangladesh was already a lot more prepared than before. But still, the floods have killed 550 people and affected 9.6 million across Bangladesh, Nepal and north-eastern India. The situation in Bangladesh particularly is worsened because of a combination of ongoing localised and national crises. Almost a third of the population has dropped under the poverty line.
“Year after year, floods devastate Bangladesh,” said the World Food Programme’s executive director, David Beasley. “The waters not only swallow up homes and lives but with them progress and hope for the Bangladeshi people.”
4. What’s happening to environmental activists and land defenders on the frontlines?
There are people standing up for climate and social justice all around the world. But according to the international watchdog Global Witness, at least 212 of these environmental campaigners and land defenders were killed last year. 40% of them are from Indigenous communities (who, lest we forget, disproportionately suffer from the climate crisis while also protecting 80% of global biodiversity). This number is the highest on record for a single year. Who’s killing them? Agribusiness, oil, gas and mining. They’re also “the industries pushing us further into runaway climate change through deforestation and increasing carbon emissions,” said Rachel Cox, a campaigner with Global Witness.
And while these frontline defenders are being killed, powerful institutions aren’t helping…
5. “Dear G20, We Have Our Eyes On You.”
The G20, an international forum made up of leaders from 19 countries and the EU, holds much power in terms of policies and the economy, international cooperation, and more. But an open letter from 350.org questions the forum’s effectiveness in terms of the economic crisis, the pandemic and the climate crisis. It highlights that despite signing the Paris Agreement, all the G20 members are still funding fossil fuel companies. On top of that, the top four within the G20 who committed the most to fossil fuels are all countries that are not the most affected by climate change impacts. But most damning? Earlier this month, during the G20 2020 summit, the members failed to come up with a post-pandemic plan towards just recovery.
If climate justice is social justice, climate groups need to demand climate plans that dismantle systems of oppression too.