Climate Change Leadership – MOOC

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Climate justice and the inequalities of climate change

Doreen Stabinsky talks about the inequalities of climate change asking three questions:

  • Who caused the problem?
  • Who is benefitting form burning fossil fuels?
  • Who is facing the impacts of climate change?

She argues that the developed countries have historically taken up most of the atmospheric space and that there are not many fossil fuels left that we can burn if we want to combat climate change. This burning of fossil fuels has primarily benefitted the elites in the developed countries.

However, the ones most affected by climate change, the result of burning fossil fuels, are the poor in the developing and the developed world. So there is a differential benefit and impact from the current activities of fossil fuels emissions. She says:

The problem is not just about reducing emissions, dealing with inequity in that climate change and energy space is also about making sure that people have basic access to electricity.

Climate justice then, she continues, is about how to these inequalities can be addressed. This entails:

  • deliver energy access to those who don’t have it
  • reducing our emissions over the next couple of decades to zero, and doing so in just ways
  • mobilising finance from the developed world to help developing countries

Climate justice matters, because we are all in this together. (…) It’s ultimately a very small planet that we inhabit together.


Exercise – climate and environmental justice

At the Environmental Justice Atlas, people from all over the world have gathered stories about environmental conflicts, and at the Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool you have a detailed map focused on the United States. In this exercise, visit one or both of the atlases and answer the following questions.

  • What are the causes of conflicts that have been reported in the area where you are situated? Can you see any patterns?
  • By using the filters, can you discern the main drivers behind environmental conflicts in the world today? What are they?
  • What would you say is the most important thing that a climate change leader should learn from this atlas?


See also

DW Planet A. (2021). This is just how unfair climate change is, watch the 10 minute video here.


© Doreen Stabinsky, CEMUS and Uppsala University