Achieving Social Equity in Climate Action: Untapped Opportunities and Building Blocks for Leaving No One Behind
Climate action offers massive opportunities to reduce social inequalities, but they remain largely untapped. This is a key finding from our review of the impacts of priority climate measures in six systems—industry, energy, transport, cities, agriculture, and forestry. This paper highlights pitfalls to avoid and building blocks for fairer climate action.
Lower-income and disadvantaged people, who suffer the most from climate change and pollution, can benefit most from protection and clean solutions but face the greatest barriers to access the gains of climate policies and are disproportionately affected by their cost.
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Like any other policy, climate actions are designed in the context of socioeconomic and power structures that produce inequality. A just transition and the promise to “leave no one behind” require moving beyond a mere focus on social co-benefits to empower and prioritize underserved groups proactively. Experience shows that the systemic changes needed for a carbon-neutral and resilient society can be used to provide fairer opportunities for all and reduce social injustice.
Enhancing ambition and equity in climate plans are two imperatives of social justice that should go hand in hand. In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, which disproportionately affects vulnerable groups, this joint approach is needed more than ever.