Fairness and Opportunity: The Environmental Justice Commission

July 14, 2021


Action to address the accelerating climate and nature emergencies can be about more than staving off the worst; it can be about imagining a better world which we can build together.

A future where people and nature can thrive, with resilient local communities, good jobs, successful low-carbon businesses, and where inequalities are reduced and opportunities offered to all.

A future where progress is measured by the quality of life, security and wellbeing of all citizens as well as the health of our natural world.

To realise this vision, a new approach is required, one which understands the inextricable link between addressing the climate and nature crises with the necessary speed and ambition, and simultaneously tackling economic and social injustice.

The transformation must be rooted in fairness. Not only because the poorest communities are least responsible for these crises and invariably the worst affected, but because unless action to restore nature and decarbonise the economy is rooted in social and economic justice, it simply won’t succeed.

The recommendations of the Environmental Justice Commission have been shaped by a series of citizens’ juries, involving hundreds of hours of discussion with people from all walks of life from across the UK. They were brought together to share their views on the challenges and opportunities their communities and the country face and their ideas for change.

The government is not on track to meet its climate targets

Predictions of current emissions reduction compared to what is called the ‘6th Carbon Budget’ which sets the required emissions reductions for the UK to hit net zero.

The overwhelming message from these juries was one of optimism: a belief that if all parts of society work together then not only can the climate and nature crises be overcome, but action to address them can improve people’s everyday lives.

Their conclusion was that governments, businesses and communities should reduce emissions in ways that protect and repair nature, lock in fairness and offer what the commission calls a ‘people’s dividend’ – benefits like warmer homes, a cleaner, affordable and accessible transport system and high-quality jobs that will sustain people and our natural world.