Life today is complex. We’re seeing a multitude of overlapping crises that require a multifaceted approach to encompass climate justice, social inequity, and a lack of economic progress.
The path to a decarbonised and less polluted world must also strive for a fairer society on multiple fronts. We can no longer treat each crisis independent of the next, else we’re literally not going to get anywhere.
Many may view this approach as even more challenging than trying to tackle each problem in isolation — especially when climate still feels like a rich person’s problem that isn’t in the here and now.
But if we’re to see true “justice” across a spectrum of cultural issues that we’ve baked and ingrained into our societal norms, then we need collective and connective action. Addressing daily emergencies around issues such as race inequality, housing disparity, and gender violence have a natural repercussion on the next, helping to create a fairer and more just society. One that creates better jobs, reduces inequalities, and alleviates stress. This broader perspective in turn garners attention and builds a diverse constituency committed to enacting effective policies that affect our future and wellbeing, including the climate.
It’s true that the prevailing narrative today paints a grim picture of escalating disasters that deepen existing inequalities and exploit human suffering for personal gain. It is not an inspiring tale, nor is it conducive to motivating collective action. We absolutely must confront the harsh realities we have inherited and acknowledge the difficult future we have created. However, surrendering to despair is a luxury we cannot afford.
Instead, we must prepare ourselves to weather future shocks by cultivating a society that prioritises kindness, generosity, and care at every level. Guaranteeing basic economic rights, such as housing, food, and clean water, is essential to this vision. By investing in this infrastructure of care, we can navigate future crises with grace and resilience. This is where our hope lies.
Recognising the climate debt owed is a step towards that. But the challenge still lies in ensuring that financing arrives and is effectively allocated. Holding historically large emitters accountable, such as the US and the EU, is essential to ensure we do not shirk our international responsibilities owed to the global south, or the returning of land to Indigenous communities in the global north to break free from colonial structures.
One of the significant barriers to achieving the necessary scale of change is our tendency to think about individual actions rather than collective efforts. The crisis response to COVID-19 has provided us with a recent memory of a genuine emergency response, demonstrating the level of urgency, spending, and commitment required. Yet, the response to the climate crisis has yet to match this level of dedication. We need to regain our fervour
Individually, the most crucial step we can take is to connect with others. Attempting to navigate this complex issue alone often leads to feelings of failure and disillusionment. Joining a broader movement offers the reassurance that everyone plays a role, and no one person needs to do everything.
Moreover, aligning our passions with the climate crisis allows us to contribute meaningfully without sacrificing our individual interests. By finding ways to connect our passions with climate action, we can engage in the work of our lifetimes and contribute to a brighter, happier future and build a resilient and equitable society that transcends the challenges we face today.