Economics and the climate: How do the two interlink?
The global economic system is tightly intertwined with issues of climate injustice.
The stark reality is that the world’s wealthiest contribute the most to our changing climate - with the root of that wealth stemming from unsustainable practices that harm the planet. One of our artists, Belinda Chlouber, explores this in her artwork Choose. Chlouber sharply contrasts humanity’s money-focused mindset, that places the environment as of low priority, with a perspective that puts people and the planet at its core.
The richest 1% of the global population emit double the amount of carbon than the poorest 50%...
In its impacts, it is the latter who get hit the hardest. Countries who experience the worst climate impacts tend to have a cyclical relationship with the financial burdens. They have less money to put in pre-emptive management and preventative measures. So when hit by an extreme weather event or climate consequence, the impacts can be devastating.
Repairs of such an event can be costly. Cyclone Idai in 2019, for example, cost Mozambique around $3.2 billion in reconstruction damages - of which, only $1.8 billion was received in aid. This has left the country with extreme damages which they lacked the funds to repair.
Of course, climate change affects wealthier nations as well…
The 2005 Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi was a huge disaster for the US; but, these are less likely and such places are overall more equipped to handle the events both materially and financially. Katrina victims were offered as much as $30,000 per household, while Mozambicans still live amongst the destruction caused by three more cyclones since. Richer areas, such as Miami Beach, are also able to put millions of dollars toward climate change mitigation and prevention for expected events.
Jenny Blazing’s artwork Reign discusses economic disparity and responsibility within climate change. The artist visually argues the need for richer nations to recognise their disproportionate contribution to environmental degradation. Crumbling elements within Blazings representation of cityscapes ties our negatively changing climate at the fault of capitalist structures: of which, richer nations bear the responsibility.
Location plays a major part with economic and climate injustice…
Some areas are simply more likely than others to experience the impacts of climate change based on their geographic placement. Where money is needed to move if one’s current climate is no longer serving them, the crisis instigates a cycle where poorer communities remain trapped in their area and live amongst the devastation caused.
Economic justice fights for equality within the economy to increase its success and fairness. This would aid poorer nations to tackle climate change, and help break the cycle of poverty. After all, the wealthiest members of the world’s population are responsible for the majority of carbon emissions - so who really should take the burden? Capitalist Greed by photojournalist Kristian Buus, draws attention to this disproportionality and the differing goals between richer communities who seek economic gain and poorer nations who simply wish to survive.