Two fronts in the struggle for climate justice

Namaste Network Members,

@Caitlinsislin pointed me to this conversation between journalist Ezra Klein and Bill McKibben, and I wanted to share it with you. McKibben co-founded 350,org, a leading climate advocacy group, and is a great writer on climate issues.

McKibben’s conversation with Klein is relevant to discussions we’ve been having across our network, about two urgent fronts for our movement. Traditionally, the environmental justice movement has often been forced to focus on fighting against harm: land grabs, pollution, heedless destruction. Those fights continue to be crucial. They are often life or death for the people involved and, in the aggregate, they have major consequences for the planet as a whole.

To survive climate change, we also have a second burning need: to rapidly build new infrastructure and a more sustainable economy. The conversation I linked to focuses primarily on that second need.

McKibben and Klein are both Americans. How does McKibben’s assessment of the climate movement resonate with those of you outside the U.S.? After 50 years of inaction, the U.S. has taken a meaningful step forward with the Inflation Reduction Act. But the U.S. government can deploy capital in a way that many other countries cannot. It’s harder to build a new world when you don’t have access to the same kind of $$.

Domestically, President Biden committed to the “Justice 40” principle, which means that at least 40% of the benefits from climate change investments should go to disadvantaged communities. The Maryland chapter of the Mid-Atlantic Justice coalition, which Namati convenes, managed to codify that principle into the Maryland state budget this year.

Here’s an essay about that win, which I co-wrote with Shashawnda Campbell, a member of our coalition who grew up in a heavily polluted neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland’s largest city. Shashawnda and her neighbors are seeking to build a composting facility, which would create green jobs and reduce the need for the trash incinerator that’s poisoning their air.

Currently, most international climate finance goes to national governments and corporations. Our emerging global movement is looking to pursue a “global justice 40,” i.e we want a significant proportion of global climate finance to go directly to communities facing harm.

How do these ideas resonate with your own experience? Are communities you work with trying to resist harm, trying to pursue sustainable development, or trying to do both? Given the opportunity, would your communities like to help lead the work of the climate transition? For example, receive carbon payments for stewarding forests and pastures? Or access jobs related to the production of solar and wind energy? What are the biggest barriers that get in the way?

We are keen to deliberate further, and to understand each other’s contexts, as we define the actions we can take collectively.

Much love,


cc: @namati_staff