Climate change and adaptation are inextricably connected to justice and equity. Often, researchers and decision-makers conceptualize climate justice through frameworks of distributive and procedural justice, which have been central to environmental justice discourse for decades. However, critical race theory provides alternative perspectives. Here I identify three themes that are most salient to climate change adaptation discourse: (1) racialization and race consciousness, (2) racial capitalism and (3) intersectionality. By drawing on these themes, I articulate a framework to analyse how racialized climate injustices are reproduced and can be ameliorated. As this Perspective demonstrates, climate adaptation informed by critical race theory can effectively challenge dominant systems of marginalization in contrast to status quo adaptation practices that uphold inequitable power dynamics.
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I thank A. Doolittle from the Yale School of the Environment as well as the graduate and undergraduate students in her research lab for their assistance in providing feedback and helping to revise this article. I also thank G. Torres from the Yale School of the Environment and Yale Law School for helping me gain expertise as a scholar of critical race theory.
The author declares no competing interests.
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Rudge, K. Leveraging critical race theory to produce equitable climate change adaptation. Nat. Clim. Chang. 13, 623–631 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-023-01690-9