Bringing an Equity Lens to Climate Change

Dear Colleagues,

Earth Day is an annual event on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection.

Climate change poses the greatest threat and risk to those that have been the least responsible – generally people that face deep-rooted and systemic challenges like poverty. Populations that are more privileged and have more resources subsequently have much stronger capacity to protect themselves from the impacts of climate change. (Retooling for Climate Change

The issues of poverty and climate cannot be separated. Climate justice and climate equity are essential approaches. (Tamarack Webinar: Climate Change and Poverty)

What is climate justice? 

The City of Vancouver in its Green Vancouver Plan defines climate justice as an approach that applies a social justice framework to the ways we understand and respond to climate change. The approach seeks to equitably distribute the cost and benefits related to adaptation and mitigation measures by centering the well-being and wisdom of those most impacted by climate change.  

Without climate justice, tackling the climate crisis can only address symptoms, not root causes. Without a social justice perspective, climate policies risk exacerbating the already unacceptable gap between rich and poor.

  • High-income families are responsible for a disproportionate share of the emissions that lead to climate change;
  • Low-income families can’t afford electric cars, retro-fitting homes or other measures that are usually proposed to reduce emissions;
  • Low-income residents risk being adversely affected by the carbon tax, higher electricity bills and other pricing measures than wealthier citizens. 

What are we doing? 

Sustainable practices that benefit people with low income include better relationships with the land, reducing food waste and improving food systems; advocating for more public transportation. 

  • Giiwe Sharing Circles are grounded in our relationship to the land and partners are learning Indigenous approaches to building relationships and co-designing solutions to poverty-related issues such as homelessness.

When food gets wasted, we’re also wasting all of the land, water, energy and other resources that went into producing it, impacting biodiversity and polluting our environment. Nearly 60% of food produced in Canada is lost or wasted each year according to Second Harvest. A third of that waste is still edible, yet it goes to landfills instead of to those who could use it.

  • Grey Bruce food rescue program: When food ends up in a landfill, it creates methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Food rescue programs increase quality fresh food at community meal programs and food banks; and diverts food waste. (Second Harvest: Food Rescue)
    • 108 tonnes of food was diverted to by 32 community food programs in 2022. (Source:Food Bruce Grey
    • OSHaRE on average rescues 11 tonnes of food/month and 25 local agencies further benefit to share out food.  (Source: Grey Bruce Food Share
    • More than 17 grocery stores, drug stores and restaurants across Grey Bruce are participating in Grey Bruce Food Rescue. 
  • Grey Bruce Community Garden Network: 
    • 10 tonnes of fresh produce was donated from local food producers to community food programs. (Source:Food Bruce Grey
    • 4 tonnes of fresh produce was donated from community gardens to community food programs. (Source:Food Bruce Grey
  • Public transportation benefits all people as well as reduces and we have advocated for more public transportation connecting people to school, employment and grocery stores. The Grey County Climate Change Plan proposes the transition to Low-Carbon Transportation Modes Strategy, an increased rural bus system.  

Key outcomes announced in 2022 from COP15 UN Biodiversity Conference and the signing of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework gives us hope that world leaders are taking action.

The David Suzuki Foundation has pulled together resources for deepening our conversations on climate change and we need to ensure that we collectively take a climate justice and equity approach. 

Stay well, Jill