Envisioning Environmental Equity: Climate Change, Health, and Racial Justice
In a paper published in The Lancet, Thilagawathi Abi Deivanayagam, Sonora English, Prof Jason Hickel, Jon Bonifacio, Renzo R Guinto, Kyle X Hill, and other authors highlight the intersecting issues of climate change, health, and racial justice. The paper argues that conversations on climate change and health often overlook the structural discrimination and the urgent need for racial justice. Through a scoping review, the authors survey the literature on the unequal health impacts of climate change due to racism, xenophobia, and discrimination. They find that racially minoritized groups, migrants, and Indigenous communities bear a disproportionate burden of illness and mortality due to climate change. The paper also emphasizes the inequalities in responsibility for climate change and the resulting effects, particularly the disproportionate burden faced by the Global South. Case studies, testimony, and policy analysis are presented to illustrate the pathways through which climate change, discrimination, and health interact in the most affected areas. The authors call for a holistic approach to addressing the web of determinants of health and emphasize the need to incorporate anti-racism, anti-xenophobia, and anti-discrimination in research and action. They invite scholars to pursue research that interrogates and repairs structural discrimination, highlighting the potential for justice-driven, interdisciplinary collaborations to create policies and practices for equitable health outcomes and flourishing ecosystems. The paper concludes by urging the health community to engage in the principles outlined to confront the impact of discrimination on health and address the root causes of harm and trauma resulting from the interaction between climate change and structural discrimination.