Why social justice is a climate matter

A healthy planet promises fairer societies and more economic and political stability.
Hands of two persons working on the ground with sticks

Working towards a fairer future

Climate action protects human beings. Even more, it offers us the opportunity to envision the world we want to live in and pass on. For how we tackle climate change directly affects the fabric of our societies, the welfare of communities and the understanding between present and future generations.

Civil societies are stronger and more resilient if the livelihoods of their citizens and the well-being of future generations are secure. Unmitigated climate change, however, exacerbates social inequalities. It makes the poor even poorer and puts the vulnerable even more at risk – whether in the industrialized world where, for instance, storms and floods can devastate livelihoods or in the Global South, where droughts and the lack of water impoverish whole communities.

Climate change is caused by people alive today but will leave a significant burden for future generations. This injustice can only be addressed by climate action that effectively reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

These emissions, however, are not equally distributed around the world. The difference between the Global North and the Global South is striking. The richest 10% of the world, mostly in the Global North, including Europe, have carbon footprints 11 times higher than the poorest 50% in terms of individual consumption.1 However, the poorest half of the world’s population is hit first and worst by the impacts of the climate crisis. This is why the climate justice movement advocates for rich industrialised countries to take responsibility for their historic emissions and the associated climate impacts.

Effective climate action can help prevent and mitigate environmental disasters that would otherwise lead to even further hardship and social injustice across the world. In doing so, it strengthens communities and contributes to a fairer world – for present and future generations.



As a philanthropist, you can foster more social justice by supporting climate action in many ways. By funding initiatives in regions most affected by climate change, you facilitate a fair transition to a low-carbon future that does not leave those already disadvantaged behind.

You can support programmes that address structural inequalities to make communities more resilient against the impacts of global warming. Introducing a climate perspective to your philanthropic portfolios will ensure that your funds have a more sustainable impact in reducing inequality. Bringing a climate perspective to initiatives that foster the understanding between young and older generations will also contribute to more social justice in the long term.



Funding Example

ClientEarth (UK)

ClientEarth is a non-profit environmental law firm that uses the power of the law to fight climate change and protect the environment.

Recent success story: Since 2016, CE has trained more than 1,500 Chinese judges on environmental adjudication practices and environmental litigation more generally. 

2020 Project example: CE was appointed a lead partner to the Chinese BRI International Green Development Coalition (BRIGC) to conduct legal research into a “Green Light’ system for BRI projects.

Issues Energy, environment, transport, other 
Regions UK, Europe, China
Lever Litigation, networks, research


Case Study

  • EDGE Funders Alliance

EDGE Funders Alliance is a network of foundations and individual philanthropists committed to supporting justice, equity, and the well-being of the planet. The network closely works with social movements and activists to promote systemic change philanthropy.