Climate change is harming people in the United States and around the world. While climate change harms people from all walks of life, those who have done the least to cause climate change often suffer the most, while those who have emitted the most carbon pollution often suffer the least. Climate change also exacerbates existing vulnerabilities, including those based on personal factors (such as age or existing health issues) and social factors (such as systemic racism and poverty). Moreover, investments in climate change solutions, such as flood protection or renewable energy, often tend to benefit people and communities who are already advantaged.
Climate justice focuses on considering the needs of everyone and addressing these inequities head-on. The goals of climate justice include reducing the unequal harms of climate change, providing equitable benefits from climate solutions, and involving affected communities in decision-making. Organizers in the broader environmental justice field have advanced climate justice for decades, including during the first Climate Justice Summit in 2000 at the 6th United Nations Conference of Parties climate negotiations (COP6). As a result, climate justice has become a core part of the climate movement, including both federal and local government action to address climate change in the United States.