The study and practice of climate justice involves communicating ideas, actions, and visions of the future, which means that the climate justice movement is an integral part of climate justice studies.
This movement is best understood as a network of many movements—global in scope, diverse in nature, and a topic that most students already perceive as highly relevant to their lives.
Because teaching and studying climate change (really, the climate crisis) can understandably provoke anxiety, I have found it indispensable to emphasize the climate justice movement(s) in my courses—for the sheer sense of empowerment, capacity, courage, and excitement it generates among students.
For this reason, familiarity with the climate justice movement should be in all scholars’ and students’ toolkits.
This NXTerra Climate Justice Movement topic page is designed to provide newcomers and experienced teachers, students, practitioners, and activists of all ages an opportunity to deepen their knowledge of this critical piece of our climate change predicament.
You will find here teaching materials full of promising solutions, enticing alternatives, and hopeful responses to the unfolding climate crisis.
Here, too, are syllabi on climate justice and climate justice movements, films and videos for classroom discussion, books, articles, journalism, and blog posts, art, and links to websites analyzing the climate justice movement and those of climate justice movement organizations themselves.
And finally, leading scholarship on the climate justice movement and historical reference points, bibliographies, and theoretical concepts and perspectives for anyone seeking to add climate justice social movements to their teaching repertoire, whether as part of their existing courses or as full course offerings.
My story: I have been actively involved in researching, teaching, documenting, and activism with and in the climate justice movement since 2009, when I attended the United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen (COP 15 – the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change).
In Copenhagen, I heard leading figures in the global climate justice movement—including Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, and Mohamad Nasheed, then the newly-elected leader of the Maldives, an island country on the frontlines of sea level rise— speak at the Klimaforum, an alternative conference set up by the climate justice movement.
I also met dozens of passionate, articulate, wonderful human beings of all ages from every corner of the globe—and I came away inspired. At that fateful encounter, I fell in love with this topic and the people and movements who animate it, and since that time I have made climate justice the central focus of my teaching, research, and scholar-activism.
As social forces and change agents, these climate justice movements and activists are crucial elements of humanity’s collective effort to meet the climate crisis with authentic, hopeful, people-driven ideas about the deep structural change and systemic alternatives that we need to build, and a source of actions for realizing and creating these vision.
I welcome you along on this journey into the climate justice movement, and with your help I look forward to building both the movement and our understanding of its potential, and to passing this on to our students.
ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE and CLIMATE JUSTICE STUDIES RESEARCH HUB
— Orfalea Center for Global & International Studies, UCSB —
Visit the EJ/CJ digital hub for environmental and climate justice studies at UCSB for a wide variety of educational resources you might find useful for bring climate justice into your own course offerings and personal educations.
EJ/CJ is currently comprised of seven Constituent Projects and convenes eleven UCSB scholars: Alenda Chang, Auli Ek, John Foran, Summer Gray, Hahrie Hahn, Ken Hiltner, Melody Jue, ann-elise lewallen, David Pellow, Elana Resnick, and Richard Widick.
EJ/CJ brings these scholars together to study and engage the global drivers of environmental and climate crisis and investigate their deep structures and histories, producing critical knowledges at the intersection of the Humanities and Social Sciences, building transformative knowledge networks that bridge academic, social movement, and policy domains, and actively intervening publicly in these crucial zones of conflict.
CLIMATE JUSTICE — Movie Trailer
— A film by Richard Widick (2019, Post-production)
— Executive Producers: Michael K. Dorsey, John Foran
MENU OF TOPIC RESOURCES – Climate Justice Movements
TEACHING NOTE: When your Fall 2020 and 2021 classes make reference to current events, consider discussing these statements in support of Black Lives Matter, each of which link this contemporary black liberation movement to concurrent social justice movements in general and to the Climate Justice Movement in particular. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How does the climate crisis intersect with Black Lives Matter? How well does the highly productive concept of INTERSECTIONALITY illuminate the current social explosion of anti-racist activism in the US and around the world?
SPECIAL LEARNING OPPORTUNITY: Video Lecture – Social Movements and Democracy – Election 2020: UC Berkeley Big Ideas, with Michael Mark Cohen and Saru Jayaraman, UC Berkeley (109 minutes):
This lecture analyzes the intersections of the pandemic, the White House super spreader event, and the unfolding historical moment of the US elections, the California mega-fires and more, all in the context of social movements theory and history.
Racial Justice is Climate Justice: COVID, the George Floyd Uprising and the Next 10 Years — Sam Grant (MN350), October 5, 2020, video recorded for “Confronting the Climate Crisis with Systemic Alternatives in the Age of Corona Virus, a nearly Carbon Neutral Conference presented by EJ/CJ and the UC Merced Center for Climate Justice:
I’d like to invite everyone who wants to find new and better ways for students and teachers to apply our knowledge to real-world problems and to support each other in imagining and creating “just transitions to the next Earth.”
One way to reshape our relationships with each other and the systems and institutions that determine the quality of life for our own communities and communities around the world, is to engage our students in real-world projects.
For me, this has taken the form of what we call the Eco Vista Project.
James Hansen: The Three Injustices (IICAT Films 2015)
In this two minute clip, rebel NASA climate scientist James Hansen describes “the injustices” associated with climate change. Hansen presented these remarks at a UNFCCC Press Conference in Paris, 2015.
This clip is an excellent, super-abbreviated introduction to the subject of climate justice; the speaker is a cultural figure of great authority in the climate justice movement; he names three injustices of climate change: Intergenerational Injustice, North/South Injustice, and Interspecies Injustice.
Mary Robinson, Keynote Address, Climate Law and Governance Day, Sorbonne, Paris, Dec. 4, 2015
This event convened at the Sorbonne while COP 21, Paris, 2015 was in session. Robinson clearly and succinctly explains how the United Nations climate policy process is rooted in the struggle for universal human rights.
This is a must see presentation for students of climate justice in the context of human rights.
In this Webinar, representatives of the Indigenous Environmental Network (Tom Goldtooth; Tamra Gilbertson) explain what the powerful Just Transition movement and its demands and can and does mean to indigenous peoples — a crucial discussion for understanding and expanding students understanding of how the Green New Deal and its demands for a Just Transition transcend the more widely understood youth movement, labor movement, and liberal environmental movement perspectives.
Climate Deadline – Paris, December 2015 (MGP 2015)
Climate Deadline – Paris, December 2015
First published on Oct 6, 2016 on YouTube by Richard Widick on Oct 16, 2015 during the run up to the UN climate talks in Paris, December 2015.
This film is an intervention in the global spectacle of emergent global environmental and specifically climate governance.
A few words by Walter Benjamin (The Arcades Project, Convolut N [N1,1]) best describe the philosophical dimension and methodical automatism of this dialectical film collage: “In the fields with which we are concerned,” wrote Benjamin, “knowledge comes only in lightening flashes. The text is the long roll of thunder that follows.”
In my five years filming inside the UN climate talks and seeking out the key cultural explanations for why the United Nations has not been able to fulfill its promise and effectively produce an adequate collective response to the runaway crisis of climate change, the brightest flash of lightening has been my recognition that the modern political philosophy and practice of property rights lies at the heart of the problem.
I produced this film with the intent to show the viewer how and why the struggle against global warming and for climate justice revolves around this question of property rights.
This work is dedicated to informing enhancing public participation in the United Nations climate negotiations, at which for the last five years I have been conducting interdisciplinary participatory observation and ethnographic film research.
The first Conference of the Parties (COP) I attended convened in Durban, South Africa, Dec. 1 -10, 2011.
During two weeks of field research in Durban, I determined to dedicate the next phase of my academic studies to developing a public sociology of the climate talks.
With my cameras turned on, I returned to COP 18 in Doha, Qatar 2012, COP 19 in Warsaw, Poland 2013, and COP 20 in Lima, Peru 2014—each time again representing the University of California as an official UN Observer Delegate from Civil Society.
Please visit The International Institute of Climate Action & Theory (iicat.org) to download the script, the program for the October 9, 2016 world premiere at the UCSB’s amazing Pollock Theatre, and to read detailed production and theory notes.
Republished on Oct. 5, 2016 with new music by Coleman Horn on the main title sequence.
Directed by Kate Brooks, The Last Animals is a story about an extraordinary group of people who go to incredible lengths to save the planet’s last animals. The documentary follows the conservationists, scientists and activists battling poachers and criminal networks to protect elephants and rhinos. From Africa’s front lines to behind the scenes of Asian markets to the United States, the film takes an intense look at the global response to this slaughter and the desperate measures to genetically rescue the Northern White rhinos who are on the edge of extinction.
As the world burns and the climate is changing, parallel struggles like those depicted in this film are useful in the classroom for putting students on the front lines of the climate struggle—even though this film is not about climate change or climate justice movements! As you watch, know that the animal nations depicted suffer not only from poaching and habitat loss, but from the changing climate. Climate justice movements across the globe are encountering the forces of species extinction wherever they go to study and learn. Identifying with the plight of animal species is an important part of finding inspiration to hope for and help The Last Animals—by which the filmmaker means we humans, the last ones likely to remain if the forces driving extinction are not confronted and turned back.