As the severity of the unfolding global climate crisis has become increasingly apparent over the last decade, a movement for climate justice has emerged to challenge unsustainable environmental policies pursued in the United States and around the world. The U.S. wing of this movement builds on the environmental justice movement and its challenges to mainstream environmental organizations around a civil rights agenda of ecological equity for all. The devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans has played a particularly important role in catalyzing the movement for climate justice. This devastation was not, I argue, simply a product of a natural disaster: instead, shortsighted, corrupt, and racist policies in New Orleans prepared the terrain for the suffering that followed the storm. The still-unfolding tragedy in New Orleans thus demonstrates the extent to which human intervention in the environment has placed the most vulnerable in harm's way. After discussing the iniquities of the reconstruction efforts in New Orleans, I outline the history of the environmental justice movement, looking in particular at two organizations—WEACT of Harlem and Sustainable South Bronx—that are working to link local environmental injustices to global issues of climate change. These organizations are at the forefront of the opposition to false solutions to climate change, such as carbon offsetting and pollution trading. Their work as grassroots organizations with increasingly extensive transnational links places them in a pivotal position to advance key models of ecological equity.
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Ashley Dawson; Climate Justice: The Emerging Movement against Green Capitalism. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 April 2010; 109 (2): 313–338. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-2009-036
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