Let’s be honest, Episode 10: Climate [In]Justice

Let’s be honest is a Food Circle’s project with the aim to open up the conversation about the challenges when being or becoming a member of the SC (Sustainability Club). This series will shine a light on the different approaches to make life more sustainable, as well as the step-backs and difficulties that arise. Being more kind and understanding, instead of critical, will hopefully help to encourage us to try, instead of giving up when facing a step-back or failure. This is made possible thanks to Sapient, the mother company of Food Circle, which every year offers internships to students from all around the world creating a uniquely multicultural environment.

Let’s celebrate the achievements and give room for honesty and struggles!

Everyone trying to live more sustainably has probably realized that vegan, environmentally friendly, and locally produced goods are often more expensive than the more harmful alternatives. Living sustainably is a privilege that not everyone can afford. While people with lower income produce fewer emissions and cause less environmental harm, they are the ones who mainly have to pay for our damage. If fuel gets more expensive, if taxes rise, if certificates on products get stricter and force them to become more expensive, the people with lower income are the ones that will suffer more from these changes.

Globally, climate change will harm those the most that are contributing the least. The 10 so-called most food-insecure countries only produce 0,08% of the global CO2 emissions (Ware & Kramer, 2019). High- and upper-middle-income countries are responsible for about 90% of the global CO2 emissions that we generated by humans since the Industrial Revolution (GatesNotes, 2021). The wealth and security of these countries are built on carbon-intensive development (Ware & Kramer, 2019).

One of the primary dangers to human life resulting from climate change is food insecurity (Ware & Kramer, 2019). Two-thirds of impoverished people rely on their self-sustained food. Climate change will affect these, relying on agriculture, more. Droughts, floods, extreme weather conditions, and worse quality of air and soil will result in drier periods, less livestock, as well as less harvest in general. Hunger and increased risk of diseases will be the results of not being able to afford imported food. Meanwhile, the richer countries can afford to invest more in their domestic food industry and build food safety nets. Additionally, they are less reliant on the domestic food industry and can afford to abandon fragile economies (GatesNotes, 2021; Ware & Kramer, 2019). As Bill Gates puts it into words in the

article 'A warmer world will hurt this group more than any other':

“A warmer world will be problematic for relatively well-off farmers in America and Europe, but potentially deadly for low-income farmers in Africa and Asia.” (GatesNotes, 2021)

There are many possible approaches to fight this injustice and climate change. As already explained in the previous episode, not one but many approaches combined will achieve the necessary change.

Bill Gates emphasizes the importance of investing in new and more sustainable technologies to reach the zero-emissions goal (GatesNotes, 2021). The other important steps that need to be taken are:

  • Reduction of emissions: This needs to happen with a focus on the main generators of emissions. Adapting more renewable energy in these countries will be an important start.

  • Humanitarian help: Richer countries need to provide technologies and financial help to ensure food security in the countries relying on their domestic food industry.

  • Prevention and early warning: Currently warning and information are often the steps taken after climate catastrophes occurred. There needs to be a shift towards earlier weather information and warnings (Ware & Kramer, 2019).

  • Change of our food industry: At the moment, our food industries produce 30% of the cumulative greenhouse emissions. The industry causes 80% of global deforestation. Furthermore, 70% of the freshwater that is available is used for generating food. About a third of this generated food is wasted then (DW, 2019). Consequently, we need to reduce our food waste on one side, but also change our food industry to a circular model on the other side. If you want to know more about this, check out our article about combining packaging and reducing food waste for the Faces of Food Waste series.

In this article, I wanted to shed a sociological light on climate change. To achieve improvement, intersectional change is necessary and that means combined thinking: disciplines like gender studies, development studies, economics, environmental sciences, etc. need to be considered when talking and discussing our environmental harm. Climate change is an environmental issue but also a social one. It’s important to understand the intersectionality of climate change to prevent further climate change.

To conclude in the words of Thiagarajan Jayaraman:

“The realization that it is not just global warming that we are dealing with, but global warming in an unequal and unjust world, has yet to sink in.” (Thiagarajan Jayaraman for Unesco, 2019)

Author and Editor: Lea Annikki Kaiser


DW. (2019, August 28). The global injustice of the climate crisis. DW. Retrieved March 9, 2022, from https://www.dw.com/en/the-global-injustice-of-the-climate-crisis-food-insecurity-carbon-emissions-nutrients-a-49966854/a-49966854

GatesNotes. (2021). Financing the Clean Industrial Revolution. Gates Notes. https://www.gatesnotes.com/Energy/This-is-how-we-build-a-zero-emissions-economy

GatesNotes. (2021). A warmer world will hurt this group more than any other. Gates Notes. Retrieved March 9, 2022, from https://www.gatesnotes.com/Energy/Helping-the-worlds-poorest-adapt-to-climate-change

Unesco. (2019). Climate and social justice. Unesco Curier, 3. https://en.unesco.org/courier/2019-3/climate-and-social-justice

Ware, J., & Kramer, K. (2019, August 8). Hunger Strike: the climate and food vulnerability index. Christian Aid. Retrieved March 9, 2022, from https://www.christianaid.org.uk/sites/default/files/2019-07/Hunger-strike-climate-and-food-vulnerability-index.pdf

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