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Aerial drone photo of a beautiful sunset over the local businesses at the Lake at Rio in Gaithersburg, MD.

Climate change is a global problem to which all people contribute and whose consequences all will experience. But we don’t all contribute to the problem to the same degree, and we won’t all experience its effects equally. Broadly speaking – and ironically – those who contribute the most to the problem are likely to be the least affected, and those who contribute the least are likely to be affected the most.

This is because people in high-income communities have the resources to engage in activities that produce more greenhouse gases – for example, to take more plane flights per year and to eat meat more often. At the same time, they have greater resources to mitigate and recover from the impacts of climate change-related events, such as fires and floods. In contrast, people in low-income communities have fewer resources to allow them to engage in activities that contribute to climate change and for the same reason are less able to mitigate and recover from the impacts of climate change on themselves and their communities.

Climate Justice Here in Montgomery County, Maryland

A 2018 WMO infographic with facts on climate risks, extreme events, and related impacts.
A CCAC infographic with facts on transportation as a primary source of black carbon from incomplete combustion.

A Detailed Explanation


The disparities between high-income and low-income communities in the United States often reflect long-standing injustices suffered by people of color and indigenous populations that have been marginalized throughout our country’s history. These communities have generally been less involved in (and less welcomed into) the political process where policies, including those concerning climate change, are made. Thus, the lack of resources in these communities to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and the sparseness of political representation to date are to a large extent a reflection of long-standing injustices. So political injustice has resulted in environmental injustice. Thus climate change is properly seen as not just an environmental issue, but as a moral and political issue as well.

At 350MoCo we believe that fighting for action on climate change must also mean fighting for climate justice, that those who have been marginalized for so long – and are often on the frontlines of climate impact – must also be on the frontlines of climate action. We believe their voices must be heard loud and clear and the actions taken to address climate change must correct, rather than reflect, long-standing injustices.

In one effort, for example, 350MoCo has partnered with Chispa Maryland, an environmental organization representing the interests of the Hispanic community in Maryland, to push for the replacement of dirty diesel school buses with clean electric ones. Diesel buses, which currently make up the public school system’s fleet, emit carbon dioxide, which is a main contributor to climate change. They also emit particulate matter air pollution (a.k.a. soot), which increases the risks of various adverse health effects such as asthma and heart disease. We hope to expand such coalitions so that the climate justice movement in Montgomery County reflects the true diversity of its population.

Header Photo by supermoving from Watford, UK - DSC_0201, CC BY 2.0,

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