Climate justice: a new civil rights movement?

Climate change is one of the most urgent issues facing humanity. While we will all feel its impact, it hits hardest the poorest and most vulnerable people on the planet. To mark the UN World Day of Social Justice 2018, we highlight our new Reading Centre for Climate and Justice which was launched last month by Mrs Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Image by Asian Development Bank licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


The Reading Centre for Climate and Justice, launched on 18 January, has been created to bridge gap between the scientific aspects of climate change and the social challenges that it causes. It brings together a new group of scientifically literate academics, lawyers, policymakers, and social scientists. Together they will develop and implement just climate policies, and be the first step in bridging the skills gap between the scientific and justice aspects of climate change.

Opening the centre, Mary Robinson focused on the need to make climate justice a civil rights movement.

Why is it, she asked, that in the face of an existential threat, we are not thinking more about this problem? Universities can play a critical role, she added, by being at the forefront of thinking about climate change. She described the opening of the centre as a significant milestone in the drive to ensure – as we take action to save our planet – that the people made vulnerable by poverty and social exclusion are not left behind.

Watch a video of the event to launch the centre, including Mrs Robinson’s talk:

The University of Reading is uniquely placed to lead on climate change and justice: we are home to the world-renowned Department of Meteorology and Walker Institute for Climate System Research and have outstanding departments of Politics and International Relations, Philosophy, and Law. Through interdisciplinary research the centre aims to open intellectual and policy frontiers and pave the way for future generations of scholars and practitioners.

Learn more about the Reading Centre for Climate and Justice.