A tweet from my thread about why climate justice is social justice
No amount of voluntary anti-oppression or decolonisation workshops outlining how the climate crisis is interlinked with colonialism, slavery, resource extractivism and labour exploitation, will counteract the Climate Chad effect. Emily Atkins describes Climate Chads as activists who claim to care about issues such as racial inequality or police brutality, but who, out of an insidious anti-blackness, believe responding to the climate emergency should be separate from intersectional environmentalism. They argue that social justice struggles are the preserve of the ‘left’ and undermine the climate movement because it prevents a singular focus on ‘uniting behind the science’ and limits mass mobilisation for climate action.
At the height of the BLM protests last summer, I encountered countless Climate Chads (self-identified white middle-class men) on XR’s digital spaces (their views are reflected in physical spaces). They drew activists supporting racial justice into conversational loops, insisting that the climate emergency is a universal scientific problem, posing an equal threat to our common future. Yet, ‘we’ are not all equally to blame for the current trajectory nor will we all experience climatic impacts evenly. The affluent in the Global North bear the disproportionate share of the responsibility since their high-carbon lifestyles drive the systems of global production and consumption, which are accelerating the climate crisis. Conversely, it is predominately BIPOC communities in the Global South who bear the brunt of the adverse effects of increasing climate disruption.
Climate models cannot capture the human dimensions of climate change. This is why young climate activists now increasingly demand climate justice and a new more just, global system. XR Youth, for instance, consistently highlight the need to actively listen to activists of colour, educate themselves and amplify BIPoC voices from the majority world within their activism. Communities of colour, many whom have been resisting the root causes of climate change for decades, are far from mere ‘resilient pixels’ for activists in the Global North to save through ‘sacrifice’. However, their work, along with that of the Black-led XR Internationalist Solidarity Network, remains unknown or misunderstood within XR UK. The movement must question how Climate Chads contribute to the marginalisation of work on antiracism, decoloniality, feminism and global justice.