Facing climate change can feel overwhelming, especially when it’s connected to so many other social justice issues. That’s why we brought Amanda Lenghan, Head of Social Impact at Cruise, an all-electric, autonomous vehicle company, to discuss climate justice with Dr. Elizabeth Cripps. Dr. Cripps is a moral philosopher, professor, and author of What Climate Justice Means and Why We Should Care.
As a bonus, Pledge 1% members will receive a 30% discount on Elizabeth’s books by using the code “PLEDGE” at checkout. You can purchase your copy today at: https://bit.ly/pledge1discount
Takeaway #1: Climate Justice is Intersectional
Cripps defines the concept of justice as “not doing harm to other human beings.” Unfortunately, the effects of climate change disproportionately harm people who are already vulnerable. People who live in the Global South, women, marginalized communities, people of color, people with disabilities, and people with non-heteronormative gender or sexual identities already face less access to resources, higher discrimination, and lower agency. If a person is a member of multiple groups, such as a queer woman in the Global South, the effects are usually even harsher.
How can we help?
Effective climate action should go beyond purely environmental concerns and embrace a wider concept of justice. Cripps gives an example of a company building solar panels on a Native American reservation. Sure, the company’s overall carbon footprint may be reduced, but if the groups affected aren’t consulted, then the action could do additional harm. To avoid these situations, Cripps recommends the process of participatory decision making. In this process, groups that are most affected by climate change have a substantial voice in how the issue is addressed.
Takeaway #2: The Power of “We” Trumps Individual Efforts
What does Dr. Cripps see as the most effective way to enact change? Group up!
We’ve heard this advice before. In our meeting around how Twilio, Airbnb.org, and Unity are addressing the Ukraine crisis, Sean Nicholson, Executive Director of External Relationships at the Norwegian Resource Center, echoed this advice:
As organizations, companies already have massive amounts of collective power. Between employees, stakeholders, and even the wider industry ecosystem, businesses are uniquely positioned to do good collectively.
Turning individual motivation into collective power can make a difference.
Takeaway #3: Avoid Despair with Action, Especially Collective Action
As a moral philosopher and academic tackling climate change and climate justice, people often ask Dr. Cripps how to avoid falling into despair. But Cripps challenges us to avoid this trap.
One of the best ways to combat climate anxiety is with action. “I gain hope by working on this issue myself,” Dr. Cripps explains, and with others that inspire her. In her next book on parenting and climate change, she recommends that parents partner climate change education with actionable steps, such as going to climate change marches.
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Sneak Peek: Dr. Cripps’ Next Book on Climate Change and Parenting
Dr. Cripps' next book, The Last Parents on Earth: Raising Kids in a Time of Crisis, will be published by MIT Press in Spring 2023 (follow @ebcripps on Twitter for updates). In this book, she addresses…
Environmental Justice Timeline by the US Environmental Protection Agency (a graphic that explores the history of environmental justice’s connection with the Civil Rights’ Movement and other intersectional events)