Climate justice acknowledges that climate change has disproportionate impacts on communities and exacerbates underlying existing systemic inequities. While climate injustices exist worldwide, they often are more acute in less economically developed countries.
While the term may be new, businesses are starting to proactively advance climate justice efforts. Business action includes building community resilience to physical climate impacts such as severe flooding or wildfires; ensuring workers, suppliers, and communities have access to affordable low-carbon, climate-resilient products and services; safeguarding human rights in the clean energy value chain as economies transition to net zero; and enabling a just transition for workers and communities that have been dependent on fossil fuel development for decades.
In India and the Philippines, climate injustices disproportionately impact women and children, and major issues can range from extreme weather and flooding to land rights and land conflicts to lack of access and opportunities in the “green” transition. In addition, India and the Philippines are coastal countries with significant levels of income disparity and inequality. Businesses in these two countries are addressing climate justice via resilience building, community education initiatives, and climate adaptation.
The following are noteworthy climate justice interventions by businesses that include efforts to improve access to healthcare in remote communities at risk from climate change, reskill workers in the energy transition toward a net-zero future, and build resilience among local communities to adapt to climate risk.
1) Improving access to healthcare in remote communities at risk from climate change
In the pursuit of a climate-resilient future, it is vital that vulnerable communities have equitable access to products and services. To address this, Metro Pacific Investment Corporation (MPIC), an investment management and holding company, improved critical access to healthcare for under-served and remote communities. As the Philippines continues to confront increased climate impacts from more frequent and extreme weather events, this digital health access can prove crucial as an increasing number of remote communities face additional barriers to reaching health professionals.
2) Reskilling workers in the energy transition toward a net-zero future
A just transition to a net-zero economy aims to ensure that workers in industries that have been heavily dependent on fossil fuels have access to reskilling, upskilling, and other green jobs as economies transition to clean energy. As businesses create and execute their climate transition plans, it is imperative to provide support for historically underrepresented groups, like women, youth, and other marginalized communities.
To support workers in the Indian green jobs movement, Mahindra Susten, the clean-tech subsidiary of the Mahindra Group, narrowed in on knowledge and skills development as a foundational component to ensure rural and economically disadvantaged communities can participate more fairly in India’s growing green economy.
3) Building resilience among local communities to adapt to climate risk
The physical impacts of climate change, such as floods, heatwaves, and droughts, disproportionately affect communities that have limited resources to prepare and rebound. The lack of proper infrastructure and financing for disaster preparedness and response expose communities to higher climate risk. Farming communities and the agriculture supply chain are particularly vulnerable to physical climate impacts as both are heavily reliant on favorable weather conditions and climate for quality crop yields; this ties their livelihoods closely to external factors often outside of their control.
To support rural farming communities in India, ITC Limited’s Agri Business division, India’s second largest exporter of agri-products, supports local communities in building resilience to the increasing severity and frequency of droughts and flash floods. Improved watershed management practices have led to the improved quality and quantity of crops, which allow local farmers to have more stable and resilient livelihoods.
The examples explored three key areas in which companies can advance climate justice. Businesses can begin to act on climate justice by ensuring human rights, equity, inclusion, and justice are integrated into climate strategies and transition plans. Businesses need to work closely with communities to identify the communities’ needs and collaboratively determine interventions that address climate injustices. Sharing examples of business action is essential for collective learning and to scale efforts to advance climate justice.