How business can center climate justice

Social and economic inequity and climate change are linked. Business has a responsibility to uplift the leadership of communities most impacted.
By B Lab Global
April 22, 2022

What does Earth Day really mean in the business world? For the global community of nearly 5,000 Certified B Corporations, it is a moment to affirm commitments to fighting the climate crisis. Yet our movement’s efforts stand in the face of a stark reality: as the source of the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions, business and industry have done more to accelerate global warming than any other human activity. As the latest IPCC report puts forth, these actions pose an existential threat to all life on Earth — and will continue to even if key reduction goals are met. 

If B Corps are going to lead a movement of real corporate accountability for this crisis, this work must recognize that social and economic inequity and climate change are linked, that business has been the primary actor in driving forward both, and that the communities that do the least to drive the climate crisis are most heavily impacted by its devastation. In short, our movement’s response to climate change must be grounded in climate justice.

What is climate justice? 

Climate Justice recognizes that those who are least responsible for climate change are more likely to suffer its most devastating effects, now and in the future. Globally, these populations are disproportionately People of Color and people who are economically marginalized. These frontline communities will be impacted first and worst by the human-made crisis of climate change, which has been primarily driven by those with economic power and privilege. Climate justice places the needs and voices of those who are most impacted by climate change at the forefront — and centers their leadership as an essential component of developing a sustainable future for the planet. 

This isn’t only a moral imperative; it is an economic necessity as well. Climate risk affects 68 of 77 industry categories. Business leaders must look to the leadership and wisdom of frontline communities to guide practices and solutions in order to reduce the risk climate change poses to both their work and to humanity.

How B Corps are taking action 

On Earth Day and every day, how can we work towards an economic system based not on extraction, but regeneration? These B Corps are already leading the way by centering climate justice in their work: 

  • Right People Renewable Energy, which operates in Singapore and Indonesia, transformed from a labor supply company for the oil and gas sector to a renewable energy business providing employment in low-income and rural communities. Read more.  

  • Green Heffa Farms, a Black-owned medicinal plants and herb farm based in North Carolina, U.S., provides educational and training resources for economic empowerment, environmental stewardship training, and community support to Black farmers. Read more. 

  • Lotus Foods, a pioneer natural products company based in California, U.S., has diversified and strengthened their domestic supply chain through a partnership with Jubilee Justice, an organization supporting Black farming communities with resources that foster restoration of land stewardship and regenerative foodways. Read more. 

Further Resources:

Ready to take action?

B Lab U.S. & Canada's Climate Justice toolkit for Earth Month 2022 was created to help businesses engage in reflection and learning around climate justice. The toolkit includes a climate justice reflection challenge, a glossary, and next steps to take action.

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