Climate justice: My thank you to the readers of The Guardian and Observer
Jan 06, 2022

Climate justice: My thank you to the readers of The Guardian and Observer

By Steve Trent

In December, The Guardian and Observer launched their Christmas charity appeal, raising funds for four organisations campaigning for climate justice, including EJF. At the time of writing, the appeal has raised an astounding £637,000, and it’s still ongoing. If you’d like to support this incredible effort, you can join in here.

These generous donations will enable us to continue our work using high-level advocacy, field investigations and powerful films to drive forward climate justice. Pioneering work to promote climate justice, and give people living on the frontlines of the climate crisis the rights and protection they deserve, has always been fundamental to our vision of a safer, fairer planet.

Our climate refugees campaign is one example. A decade of campaigning has taken us from a time where no-one spoke of ‘climate refugees’, to today, where the term is widely used to reflect the growing threat climate breakdown poses to the most fundamental human rights.

This work meant that EJF was part of the first ever hearings by the joint Committees on Human Rights and Environment of the European Parliament on climate refugees in 2008. Since those early days, we have met with Presidents, Ministers and leaders from around the world, screening our films, sharing our reports and findings from investigations to drive action for a global response to global heating.

Thousands of MPs, scientific experts, authors, artists and more joined our call for urgent action for climate refugees last year.

We use our platform to help those on the frontlines of the climate crisis to tell their stories. In 2018, in collaboration with Finnish MEP Merja Kyllönen, EJF held a photography exhibition in the European Parliament, showing the human face of climate breakdown.

We are calling on EU leaders and parliamentarians to take action and create a new legal agreement that protects climate refugees, while ensuring that the EU meets international commitments made under the Paris Agreement to keep global heating to 1.5 degrees.

We worked with the UK’s National Theatre and playwright Ursula Rani Sarma to create an audio-visual exhibition in central London which included filmed portraits of climate refugees from Bangladesh and Sami people from the Arctic, whose way of life is threatened by climate breakdown. As well as dramatising their accounts, our images were projected onto the iconic National Theatre building and reached hundreds of thousands of viewers in 2018.

At COP26 in Glasgow in December, we promoted our plan for a safe and sustainable future for people and the planet. Our Climate Manifesto brings together our long experience of working with people on the frontlines of the climate crisis and scientific research to create a clear roadmap of measures that can be taken by governments today to achieve a just, zero-carbon world.

At the same talks, we again acted on our central belief that the perspectives of those on the frontlines of the climate crisis must be heard. We supported six young climate activists with bursaries to attend COP, covering their transport, accommodation and living costs, and giving them a chance to share their message. These activists were from Uganda to Bangladesh, from Peru to the Seychelles, and they all deserve a say in their future.

In the run up to the conference and during the event, we interviewed 13 climate activists around the world as part of our “Voices missing from COP” series, sharing their messages on social media, with journalists and through our website.

We are just getting started. In 2022 and beyond, we will use our unique mix of award-winning films, investigations and political engagement to build an even more powerful case that it is time to act on the climate crisis now, defending the rights of those on the frontlines of the planetary emergency. We will shine a light on those responsible for the destruction of our planet, and work to ensure climate justice for everyone, everywhere.

This is the work that readers of the Guardian and Observer have put their faith in, and we will repay that faith. We know that our most basic human rights - the ability to feed and clothe our communities; to provide shelter and livelihoods; to educate our children and improve our health and well-being - all ultimately depend on a secure and safe natural environment.

We know that the solutions to our heating world, and the attack it brings on human rights and our well-being, are available to governments and businesses right now. We know that the only option is far greater ambition and the action to match it. Our pledge is to do all that is in our power to achieve the changes the world needs, protecting the natural systems that sustain us all and defending our shared human rights.