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Fairness in the Low-Carbon Shift: Learning from Environmental Justice

http://ecology.iww.org/PDF/misc/Fairness in the Low-Carbon Shift_ Learning from Environmental Jus.pdf

By Uma Outka - Brooklyn Law Review, January 1, 2017

The environmental justice movement in the United States forged a pivotal connection among concerns for social justice, civil rights, and environmental protection. At a time when the federal environmental statutes enacted in the early 1970s were beginning to mature, the movement drew critical attention to the disproportionate environmental harm borne by low-income communities and communities of color. The movement forced environmentalists to reflect on their biases and their commitments — to recognize that urban or degraded landscapes where people live are as much a part of our environment as the remote wilderness of our national parks. It made plain that our laws, designed to protect human health and the environment, were letting environmental justice communities down.

Today, as climate change drive s a shift in the energy sector away from fossil fuels and toward low-carbon resources, calls for “energy justice” and “climate justice” expand the movement’s conceptual reach in the modern context. These justice concerns respond to inequality in the distribut ion of environmental harms, as well as access to the environmental, economic, and social benefits asso ciated with the energy sector and climate policy. The link between climate change, energy, and environmental justice is un mistakable: the energy sector contributes to climate change more than any other industry; climate change is predicted to affect environmental justice communities most; and the energy sector has a long history with environmental injustice. In the United States and around the globe, the energy sector is the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions, causing atmospheric temperatures to rise.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.