The richest 1% of the world’s population cause twice as much carbon dioxide as the poorest 50%.

That same poorest 50% – 3.5 billion people – live overwhelmingly in countries most vulnerable to climate change, meaning that they are bearing the brunt of a crisis they did not cause.

And the UN has warned of a ‘climate apartheid’, as wealthy nations pay to escape overheating, hunger and conflict while the rest of the world is left to suffer.

These injustices are not an accident, they are deep rooted in Europe’s colonial projects.

These projects were founded on the idea that wealthy countries can colonise new territories as a business venture. Their rainforests, wetlands, grasslands, crops and minerals have been decimated by the need for quick and competitive economic growth which could only be sustained by continual state expansion. The enslavement and removal of indigenous people by any necessary means was the only way that resource extraction could continue at the same pace, so that colonising nations could thrive. 

The profits flowed up to the colonial rulers and back to Europe, accumulating wealth that continues to be hoarded to this day. And while there may be new actors – from nation states to multinational corporations – many of the practices and logics have survived.

Globally, we live in a system which allows the rich to thrive, while ignoring the voices of those most affected by the climate crisis - people of colour and people in the Global South.

If we’re to ensure that we tackle the root causes of the climate crisis, those most impacted by its effects must be front and centre of discussions about solutions.

Find out more - watch back our event, 'Climate Justice is Migrant Justice', hearing from acitivsts on the frontlines of campaigns for climate, racial and migrant justice.

Watch the event

Illustration by the incredible Roshi Rouzbehani

Share the blog series

Instagram icon  

Forward to part 2 of our blog series: Who bears the brunt of the climate crisis?

Forward to part 3 of our blog series: “Us and them” won’t solve the climate crisis