Category: Climate justice

Climate Justice event during Sustainability Month 2022

This blog post was written by Katie Gard, Climate Education Assistant and organiser of the Climate Justice event in Sustainability Month.


Climate change will impact different people differently. Therefore, it’s likely to further exacerbate existing inequalities across generations, thus creating greater inequality and injustice. The recent Climate Justice Event, held during Sustainability Month 2022, explored narratives of exclusion which can often be perpetuated within environmental movements and discussed how inclusion can be promoted instead. The event involved a panel consisting of three wonderful speakers: Elias Yassin, Suzanne Dhaliwal, and Harpreet Kaur Paul. The speakers combined their personal experience with academic rigour to deliver engaging and informative presentations which challenged the misconception that social justice is unrelated to the climate movement. Although we acknowledged that it was impossible to comprehensively explore all the various avenues of climate justice, the speakers discussed themes including, but not limited to, disability justice, racial justice, and land justice.

Elias discussed how people with disabilities are often excluded from environmental and political activism: he drew upon specific instances within Extinction Rebellion and the recent event COP26. He explored the need to recognise issues of accessibility within wider society and the climate movement. Furthermore, he emphasised that the only true liberation is collective liberation, within which disability justice must be central. He also referenced a variety of resources for those who wish to understand more about the subject, all of which can be found at the end of this post.

Secondly, Harpreet Kaur Paul discussed the disparity between the ways in which different communities experience climate impacts worldwide, based on centuries of oppressive systems entrenched in inequality. For instance, women and girls often need to travel further in drought-ridden countries, which can increase their exposure to gender-based violence because of precarity driven by climate change impacts. She further discussed the compounding forms of oppression incurred by climate injustice, for instance how trans* people who are refugees can be subjected to binary ways of existence within refugee camps in relief countries.

Finally, Suzanne Dhaliwal discussed systemic injustice and highlighted the connection between environmental destruction and systems of white supremacy and patriarchy. She emphasised the need for decolonisation, and the importance of accountability within this process, particularly of destructive legacies and histories. When providing examples of her previous activism, she brought up the need to care for those who challenge dominant culture, alongside the importance of serving others within activism. I encourage you to watch the available recordings, for a summary cannot do justice to the extensive examples and content described by the three speakers.

After the speakers’ respective presentations, we transitioned to a discussion in which the panellists answered questions prepared by audience members. Some key highlights from this section included the need for self-work within collective organisations. Reflecting on the work of bell hooks (1994), the speakers discussed the need to build trust grounded in intention, humility, and grace within environmental spaces. Given that ideal solutions are not likely to be achieved overnight, they expanded the understanding of what ‘action’ means by advocating for imperfect action together whilst simultaneously working towards a new and reformed system. Moreover, it was highlighted that activists should be centred in allyship, to advocate and achieve collective liberation and justice for all.

You can access the available recordings and recommended resources through this link.

References:

Hooks, b. (1994). Teaching to transgress: education as the practice of freedom. Oxfordshire, England. Routledge.

Sustainability Month 2022: a true celebration

What a month! Throughout February, we welcomed hundreds of people to more than 20 social and educational events focused on taking action around the Sustainable Development Goals. Organised by students, staff members, and alumni from across disciplines, this month was a true celebration of the breadth of sustainability and the King’s community’s involvement in it.

We learned to reflect on our stories in the climate and nature crisis and got inspired to take action in the events on volunteering, recycled glass, plant-based diets, and greener ways to grow your veg. We learned how we might address the climate crisis from a policy perspective, what digital start-ups can do to advance the SDGs, and what some of the main inequality issues are in South Korea. The interconnectedness of environmental and social sustainability was highlighted during the panel for climate justice and the event on the climate crisis and refugees, and we learned how we might go about translating that into education. The Shots for Hope exhibition and the Visions for the Future workshop series helped us to stay hopeful in the face of the climate crisis.

The month brought people together socially in events such as the sustainability quiz night, stitch and pitch, and the show the love campaign, as well as professionally in the interdisciplinary sustainability research forum and the London Student Sustainability Conference. The events on careers in sustainability helped students explore the breadth of what this means for their future.

If you missed an event, you can find the event recordings here. Not all recordings have been uploaded yet, but we aim to do so as soon as possible. We will also be posting event summaries and reflections on our blog over the next few weeks, so keep an eye out for those. If you have any feedback you would like to share, please fill out this feedback form. If you would like to write a blog post on an event you organised or attended, feel free to get in touch.

International Women’s Day 2022: Women, climate change, and ecofeminism

The facts are clear: women and girls are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change. This vulnerability has several social, economic and cultural causes, including the fact that the majority of people living in poverty are women, and they are often the ones responsible for putting food and water on the table which is becoming increasingly difficult due to climate change.

However, on this day celebrating the achievements of women, it is important to highlight how women are simultaneously at the forefront of global sustainable development. Women need to be at the heart of climate action, because “women possess unique knowledge and experience, particularly at the local level, their inclusion in decision-making processes is critical to effective climate action” (UN Women, 2022). Studies have shown that women’s participation both at the local level and in national parliaments leads to better outcomes for both people and planet.

“Without gender equality today, a sustainable future, and an equal future, remains beyond our reach” (UN, 2022). Why is this so important? Let’s explore ecofeminism for some potential answers.

Ecofeminism

First of all, what is ecofeminism? It is a social movement bringing together feminism and environmentalism, arguing that the domination of women and the degradation of the environment have the same root causes: patriarchy and capitalism (Buckingham, 2015). The key word in ecofeminism is domination. According to Vandana Shiva, development and globalisation are a continuation of our obsession with domination of the ‘other’, whether this is nature, women, indigenous peoples, or subordinate classes (Clark, 2012).

Therefore, “any strategy to address one must take into account its impact on the other so that women’s equality should not be achieved at the expense of worsening the environment, and neither should environmental improvements be gained at the expense of women” (Buckingham, 2015). For solutions to be impactful they have to address both feminism and environmentalism and this can only be meaningfully done by reversing current values to prioritise care and cooperation over more aggressive and dominating behaviours.

An inspiring example: Mariama Sonko

Mariama Sonko leads the ecofeminist movement Nous Sommes la Solution (NSS) meaning “we are the solution”, which brings together more than 500 rural women’s associations in Senegal, Ghana, Burkina Faso, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea and Mali to promote sustainable agroecology and fight large-scale industrial farming. What ecofeminism means to her? “The respect for all that we have around us.” Doesn’t sound like a too difficult ask to me.


Check out Women4Climate: an initiative aiming to empower and inspire the next generation of women climate leaders.

Get involved in International Women’s Day (IWD) and Women’s History Month at King’s. Check out the events KCLSU is organising throughout the month here, from panel events and movie nights to leadership masterclasses about challenging misogyny and being an ally to women. The chaplaincy is also organising an event to watch and discuss the movie Stranger/Sister. Explore King’s Global Institute for Women’s Leadership and their upcoming events here. Find out more about King’s dedicated Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team, the staff gender equality network Elevate, and KCLSU’s Women’s Network.

At King’s, we are slowly moving in the right direction, but there is of course more to do. In 2021, King’s Gender Pay Gap was 14.8%, down from 17.1% the year before. Read the news article on King’s 2021 Gender and Ethnicity Pay Gaps figures here, and while you are at it, check out how King’s has been awarded the Workplace Equality Index Award in recognition of its commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion at work.