framing the problem
part of storytelling is what story are you telling?
the heart of the framing battle is naming the problem, since how we define the problem determines what solutions are possible. To varying degrees, governments and multinational corporations around the world have acknowledged the crisis and they claim they are working to address it. However, they present the climate crisis through a reductionist lens as merely a problem of too much carbon in the atmosphere while ignoring the underlying issues of justice, equity, and humanity’s relationship with the Earth. This framing allows exploitation of the crisis to justify escalating the very policies and practices that have pushed the planet to the brink. Essentially the world’s richest countries and companies are co-opting environmental rhetoric to put a PR friendly “green” face on the same old politics of unlimited economic growth, resource thefts and corporate exploitation.
The terms of the debate are being reframed from seeing the climate crisis as an isolated issue, to understanding the disruption of the climate as merely the most visible symptom of a much larger problem: our global system of growth-addicted, fossil fuel-driven, corporate capitalism that is undermining all the life support systems of the planet.When this deeper framing of the problem is accepted it becomes clear that we will never re-stabilize the climate without addressing the roots of the problem. This means acknowledging the Global North’s historic responsibility for the problem (“climate debt”) as the first step towards fundamental shifts to our economy, political systems, and cultural assumptions. This is why one of the over-arching and unifying messages coming out of global movements fighting for a just response to the climate crisis is “system change NOT climate change”.
there are a number of dangerous frames––control myths––that must be challenged.
Control Myth #1 Only The Market Can Save Us!
Control Myth #2 Technology Will Save Us!
Control Myth #3 Climate Is Too Big An Issue: Only Governments Can Save Us!
Climate justice framing is challenging the control myths above (and many more) by refocusing the issue on the core problems of fossil fuel addiction, the ongoing legacy of historic inequities and the need for systemic change. At the center of the evolving narrative is the role of community-based solutions in stewarding a just transition towards a society that is both sustainable and just. As different movements like migrants rights, reproductive justice and organized labor articulate the connections between their struggles and the climate crisis there are many opportunities to experiment with applying and broadening climate justice framing.