Environmental Justice & Climate Justice defined

What is the basis in U.S. law for federal action on environmental justice? 

How does that differ from a broader definition of environmental justice in professional practice?

Against this backdrop, what is the definition of Climate Justice?





President Bill Clinton's March 1994 Executive Order #12898 remains in effect today. 

This historic statement noted:  "In accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, each Federal agency shall ensure that all programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance that affect human health or the environment do not directly, or through contractual or other arrangements, use criteria, methods, or practices that discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin.

"Each Federal agency shall analyze the environmental effects, including human health, economic and social effects, of Federal actions, including effects on minority communities and low-income communities, when such analysis is required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), 42 V.S.C. section 4321 et seq. Mitigation measures outlined or analyzed in an environmental assessment, environmental impact statement, or record of decision, whenever feasible, should address significant and adverse environmental effects of proposed Federal actions on minority communities and low-income communities."

- excerpted from        https://www.epa.gov/fedfac/epa-insight-policy-paper-executive-order-12898-environmental-justice


This contrasts with the more broad definition followed by helping professions. 

For example, the following definition is adapted from the Council on Social Work Education's Commission for Diversity and Social and Economic Justice and Commission on Global Social Work Education Committee on Environmental justice, as follows:

"Environmental justice occurs when all people equally experience high levels of environmental protection and no group or community is excluded from the environmental policy decision-making process, nor is affected by a disproportionate impact from environmental hazards. Environmental justice affirms the ecological unity and the interdependence of all species, respect for cultural and biological diversity, and the right to be free from ecological destruction. This includes responsible use of ecological resources, including the land, water, air, and food."


Subsequently, Climate Justice moved into center stage

as the entire world became more aware of, and dedicated to addressing, the global challenge of climate change as an existential question for humankind.  The overlap with environmental justice has become increasingly obvious with the broad recognition that climate change is a force multiplier that profoundly expands and exponentially amplifies virtually all aspects of environmental justice.  One research center put it succinctly when they published:   

"Climate change is fundamentally an issue of human rights and environmental justice that connects the local to the global. With rising temperatures, human lives—particularly in people of color, low-income, and Indigenous communities—are affected by compromised health, financial burdens, and social and cultural disruptions. Those who are most affected and have the the fewest resources to adapt to climate change are also the least responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions—both globally and within the United States."

- excerpted from       https://www.colorado.edu/ecenter/energyclimate-justice/general-energy-climate-info/climate-change/climate-justice

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