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Tatik Eryati (38) walks through part of her community's preserved forest to collect vegetables and traditional medicines in Tembak hamlet, Sintang District, Indonesia, 2018. Caritas Australia partner Karina and Caritas Sintang run the Strengthening Resilient Communities program to strengthen the capacity of the Dayak community through eco-tourism and income generating activities to enable them to conserve their customary forest and safeguard access to land and land rights. Photo credit: Richard Wainwright/Caritas Australia.

Climate Justice

Climate change refers to the current rapid warming of the Earth's climate, driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting changes in global weather patterns. Since many of the communities we work with depend on climate regularity to support their wellbeing and livelihoods, climate change poses one of the greatest threats to their survival.   

Climate justice is a term used to frame climate change as an ethical and political issue, rather than a purely environmental or physical one. Whilst we are all impacted by the effects of climate change, the impact is especially severe for people living in extreme poverty. 

Climate change is happening now and to all of us. No country or community is immune. And, as is always the case, the poor and vulnerable are the first to suffer and the worst hit.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Decades of success in reducing poverty could be reversed without substantial, widespread efforts to stop global warming and to help people, particularly those living in low-income countries, adapt with the changes that are already upon us. 

“Climate change could push more than 100 millionadditional people back into poverty by 2030” (The World Bank, 2015). 

Advocates for climate justice are striving to not only tackle climate change, but address and mitigate the disproportionate effects it has on the most vulnerable and marginalised communities in the world. 

Photo credit: Richard Wainwright/Caritas Australia.
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Photo credit: Richard Wainwright/Caritas Australia.

What are the effects of climate change? 

Our lives depend on the environment to deliver the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the clothes we wear and the products that create jobs and economic security. 

Whilst the direct consequences of climate change include things like rising global temperatures, rising sea levels and higher oceanic temperatures, the indirect consequences include:  

  • More frequent and extreme weather events e.g. drought 
  • Increased water scarcity 
  • Reduced food security 
  • Increased spread of disease 
  • Loss of biodiversity  
  • Oceanic acidification  
  • Glacier shrinkage and permafrost thawing 

These projected effects pose an existential threat to all life on this planet, but particularly to those already struggling to cope with the daily realities of extreme poverty. 

Photo credit: Inmanuel Chayan Biswas/Caritas Bangladesh.
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Photo credit: Inmanuel Chayan Biswas/Caritas Bangladesh.

What are we doing to promote climate justice? 

Whilst we can’t stop global warming overnight, or even over the next few decades, we can slow the rate and extent of global warming by taking steps to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. 

We are working with our local partners to develop programs to assist a number of vulnerable communities who are struggling to adapt to the effects of climate change and global warming. 

One such program is the Sustainable Livelihoods for Indigenous People in Dinajpur in Bangladesh, which in part focuses on strengthening climate change mitigation and adaption awareness and disaster risk reduction.  

This program involved educating participants in 60 villages on the negative effects of climate change and assisted the development of Action Plans for responding to disasters brought on by global warming. 

The training involved teaching participants how to secure their livestock and poultry in the event of flooding, and also showed families how to protect their personal documents from disasters. 

Catholic Earthcare Australia is another program aimed at tackling climate change. Its mission is to help promote understanding among people that creation is sacred and endangered, and must be protected and preserved for present and future generations yet unborn. 

Catholic Earthcare invites all people to journey with it and work on the urgent and critical tasks of safeguarding the integrity of creation, protecting Earth’s fragile ecosystems and providing a voice for communities and victims of environmental degradation, injustice and pollution. 

Join us in the fight for climate justice

Only together can we hope to reverse the adverse effects of climate change. If you would like to learn more about this important issue, please join our mailing list.

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