Many higher education institutions are committed to advancing social progress, including through climate action. Yet, many academic institutions remain invested in systems that exacerbate climate change and social injustice. My colleagues and I at Northeastern University recently published an article arguing that higher education needs a paradigm shift to center climate justice across institutional decision-making.
Climate change is unjust because the communities most harmed benefit least from its causes. A wealthy few have amassed the profits of fossil fuel extraction and processing, knowing it is the primary driver of climate change, without substantively paying the costs to remove pollution or emissions. Pollution and climate change most harm marginalized and under-resourced communities who use the least fossil fuels. These harms include health consequences like cancers and asthma, as well as losses from increasingly extreme weather, such as neighborhoods and food supplies being burned by fires or disrupted by droughts or floods.