Earth Day 2022: six facts about climate change and inequality

Sandra Stowe/Oxfam

Climate change impacts the most vulnerable first and worst and that’s why Oxfam is making sure that climate action is central to our fight against inequality.

The climate crisis is one of the most important issues we face today. It is an existential threat affecting people in every country on every continent, touching the root causes of poverty, conflict, and hunger. It is time that our elected officials give it the urgency, attention, and investment that is necessary. People’s lives depend on it.

Here are six things to know about inequality and the climate crisis:

1. The biggest villain in this climate emergency is the fossil fuel industry, but in the US, fossil fuel companies are receiving $15 billion annually in federal subsidies paid for by taxpayers.

2. The people who contribute the least to climate change are the ones who face the worst impacts. For example, due to the effects of climate change an estimated 13 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia have been displaced in search of water and pasture, just in the first quarter of 2022, despite having done little to cause the climate crisis.

3. Black and Indigenous people face the worst impacts of climate change, which causes heat waves, storms, and other disasters. In the US, so-called redlined—predominantly Black neighborhoods that were historically denied access to investment—experience temperatures up to 12 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than in other neighborhoods in the same city, a result of fewer green areas.

4. Climate change disproportionally impacts women—whether it’s walking further to collect water, being last to eat during droughts, or assuming most of the household care responsibilities in the wake of extreme weather. Women are also more likely to live in poverty than men, have less access to basic human rights, and face systematic violence that is exacerbated in times of instability.

5. The richest one percent of the world's population are responsible for more than twice as much carbon pollution as the three billion people who made up the poorest half of humanity in the last 25 years.

6. While the US has many laws in place—like the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Air Act—that could be protecting communities from fossil fuel pollution and climate change, unfortunately, politics and big polluters often get in the way. This is why Oxfam is calling on the Biden administration to take action to protect communities and end dependency on dirty energy.

The time for climate action is now. At Oxfam we are dedicated to fighting climate change and supporting the communities most impacted by it.

Get inspired with us by listening to our Climate Action Spotify playlist! Together we can fight climate change and make our world a more equal place.

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