Social Justice


Social justice is the fair treatment and equitable status of individuals in society. It reflects institutions, laws and policies that promote and enforce fairness and equity. This can be especially focused toward historically oppressed, exploited, and marginalized populations for which subtle and not-so-subtle social behaviors stand in the way. Social justice is also thought of as distributive justice; the equitable distribution of social, political, and economic benefits and burdens – the equal opportunity to both contribute and benefit from the “common good”. It is related to human rights concepts like personal liberty, voting and free speech, employment, equal education, political independence, and economic development (

Achieving social justice in a society where it is lacking, necessarily involves a redistribution of power. Just access to resources necessarily involves improving access to education, employment, environment and socioeconomic status specifically to those who lack some degree of access. Equity isn’t the same as equality because what is easy for one to achieve, may be difficult for another – they do not need equal assistance, they deserve equitable outcome. The diversity among individuals and groups reflect varied needs, communications styles, aspirations, and capabilities – that must be equitably incorporated into social systems. Members of all groups must have access to the policymaking that affects their various well-being as they perceive it. We cannot have social justice without human rights – particularly including free speech, voting rights, and criminal justice protection. The Five Principles of Social Justice

Climate justice is social justice as it relates to climate change and its mitigation. It addresses the issue that climate changing activities and the burdens of climate change impacts are not distributed fairly. Wealthy, industrialized nations (and privileged classes within those nations), who have benefited from the climate changing activities bear the greatest responsibility to stop climate change and to both assist less-advantaged nations to adapt and develop in non-climate-damaging ways, and as well as mitigate the unavoidable climate change impacts. For example, it is unfair to deprive a poor population in a poor nation of cooking fuel, in the interest of offsetting carbon emissions from industrial production. Climate Justice | MIT Climate Portal

Climate change issues are social issues because their impacts are diverse and inequitable. The challenge is global because we all share the planet and the entire Earth is being affected. The needs of myriad disadvantaged local populations must be known and understood to be addressed in an equitable way. Often those with the least resources will be the ones we must target for receiving the greatest benefits of our efforts.

We must understand that technical solutions require human implementation - where a CDR approach will be implemented, who will be doing the work, and who can benefit or be disadvantaged by the process, are essential elements affecting success or failure; often more directly than the technical specification.


April 2023, The UN General Assembly requested advisory opinions from the International Court of Justice on the following issues:
(a) What are the obligations of States under international law to ensure
the protection of the climate system and other parts of the environment
from anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases for States and for
present and future generations;
(b) What are the legal consequences under these obligations for States
where they, by their acts and omissions, have caused significant harm
to the climate system and other parts of the environment, with respect
(i) States, including, in particular, small island developing States,
which due to their geographical circumstances and level of
development, are injured or specially affected by or are
particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change?
(ii) Peoples and individuals of the present and future generations
affected by the adverse effects of climate change?’”

Statements for the court’s consideration are due by 20 October 2023; comment period for such statements ends 22 January 2024.

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