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  • Aida binti Amirul Bahri

Why we need to acknowledge intersectionalities in the fight for climate justice.

I hope by now that we can all agree that climate change is a social justice issue --that climate change is a phenomenon that directly or indirectly impacts communities in ways big or small. I invite you to revisit one of our most popular Fridays for Future about eco and climate justice, courtesy of Dr. Cybelle Shattuck, in learning why that is.


Intersectionality is defined as “the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups”.


Climate change not only presents issues new and unusual to society, but dangerously perpetuates the existing problems experienced by traditionally marginalized groups and impedes the progress in achieving complete liberation of the oppressed.


In the fight for justice, we naturally blame outside entities for their lack of action. This pattern of thought can sometimes be problematic and is ignorant towards the situations specifically dealt by different oppressed groups. It can be challenging for a person to see past their privilege and conceptualize circumstances that can never be a reality for them.


FYI, this does not mean the actions of corporate polluters should be defended -- they are not deprived by any political systems in today’s societal context. It is problematic when we -- especially the least underprivileged -- point fingers towards nations and groups who are currently invested in a different fight for liberation.


We have seen some of the most respected leaders of our movement boldly condemning outside groups for their lack of climate action without a critical understanding of their situational context. When a flawed perspective is voiced out by a leader, it enables many others to be in agreement, perpetuating stereotypes and hindering inclusivity.


Truthfully, the climate movement is severely underrepresented by BIPOCs, non-western nations and communities because of this exact reason --that we fail to recognize these intersectionalities. Our movement often assumes a one-dimensional context of privilege and capacity for responsibility from every individual. Proponents of climate justice must acknowledge there are those in the movement affected by additional injustices including race, gender, nationality, education or economic.


It is impossible to achieve full liberation without simultaneously addressing these systems of oppression in our advocacy.

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