The need to combat climate change has gained widespread support over the past ten years, and the discussion has expanded to take into account not only the crisis’ effects on the globe as a whole but also those on communities already affected by economic inequality and other forms of oppression. The shift from environmentalism to climate justice, which aims to address both environmental degradation and social inequality, has been led by Canadian author, activist, and journalist Naomi Klein.
Klein makes it apparent that natural disasters can be exploited as a justification for enacting neoliberal policies that disproportionately harm people living in poverty or marginalized groups in her influential 2007 book “The Shock Doctrine.” She pushed for a new understanding of how these crises are related—one that could guide solutions to future catastrophes—by highlighting the connection between corporate capitalism and natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Since then, Klein has worked across sectors to forge connections between individuals who see climate change as an environmental problem, those who are concerned with human rights, activists working to end economic injustice, and businesses with a stake in promoting global sustainability. She supports “intersectional” strategies, which take into account several overlapping crises at once. To help those who are struggling financially understand how addressing global warming could benefit them economically, it is necessary to link climate action with better job creation and the reduction of inequality.
In recent years, Klein has pushed for an eco-socialist agenda that acknowledges our interconnectedness, including the relationship between the health of the environment and our own, the relationship between racial and health injustice and economic justice, and the requirement for education reform in order to achieve sustainable development. She goes on to say that if we don’t move quickly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support communities that are at risk from floods, droughts, or rising sea levels, we will continue to experience disastrous effects on a global scale.
In order for everyone to thrive and new employment to be produced through accessible renewable energy systems, Naomi Klein’s vision for Climate Justice pushes us all towards genuine meaningful transformation that involves both ecological stewardship and social justice reforms (especially those already most impacted). Rethinking our relationship with the environment is the first step in doing this. We must see it not only as something to be exploited, but also as sacred and deserving of reverence rather than exploitation. We have a responsibility to cooperate in order to achieve a common objective, one where we acknowledge our dependency on the environment as well as our unique reliance on one another in order to achieve true collective achievement. It is more important than ever for all of us to work together to accept responsibility for combating climate change.