Climate justice provides a crucial framework to embed issues of equity and justice into COVID-19 recovery strategies. The pandemic, alongside climate change, is disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable and marginalized people across the globe, and particularly exposing Black, Brown, and Indigenous people to ill-health and economic hardship. However, there is a risk that economic considerations will take precedence over climate action in recovery strategies and avoid addressing climate and racial injustices. Yet, it is vital that climate and racial justice and just transition principles inform post-COVID-19 recovery strategies to avoid compounding inequalities. This paper unpacks the layers of injustice surrounding the pandemic, along with their relation to climate policy and finance. It advocates for policymakers to adopt climate justice and just transition principles as a framework for COVID-19 recovery strategies to ensure existing inequalities in society are recognized and addressed in the run-up to the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) in 2021 and beyond. 

Key policy insights: The COVID-19 pandemic and climate change intersect to further compound inequalities between and within nations. Current vulnerabilities and historical racial injustices undermine the ability of individuals, communities and nations to cope with, and adapt to, climate change. Economic considerations have dominated climate and development policy, and this must change to include justice and equity as key criteria to ensure a green and just recovery. Policymakers should pursue climate policymaking designed with broad and diverse communities in mind, recognizing diversity and intersectionality, to empower marginalized groups. Just transition principles should be mainstreamed into investment and financing criteria for climate finance and recovery strategies to ensure funding reaches those who need it most.


This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Cite as

Mattar, S., Jafry, T., Schröder, P. & Ahmad, Z. 2021, 'Climate justice: priorities for equitable recovery from the pandemic', Climate Policy, 21(10), pp. 1307-1317. https://doi.org/10.1080/14693062.2021.1976095

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Last updated: 20 April 2023
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