Climate justice is a concept that advocates for the equitable distribution of the burden of climate change and the responsibilities for mitigating it. The climate justice movement originated in the US in the 1990s when American African communities protested the dumping of toxic waste in the areas they lived. It is referred to as ‘environmental racism’.

The term has come to encompass the unequal distribution of impact on many groups, including indigenous and underserved populations, women and the disabled. Justice concerns were formalised at the ‘First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit’ in 1991 where attendees set out 17 principles of environmental justice.

The first-ever Climate Justice Summit took place in 2000 and was held during COP 6 in The Hague. The summit resulted in a statement for action. COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009 saw a mass mobilisation of climate justice activists and calls from global south leaders to recognise the recognition of wealthy nations’ responsibility for climate change.