This academic paper traces the articulations of environmental justice since its development and its subsequent influence on the three main forums for climate justice discourse: academia, nongovernmental organizations, and grassroots movements. Of these three articulations, the key concerns and principles of environmental justice are clearest in the climate justice discourse developed from grassroots movements—which have greater focus on local impacts and experience, inequitable vulnerabilities, the importance of community voice, and demands for community sovereignty and functioning.
In addition, this review traces how environmental justice affects more recent articulations of ideas for “just adaptation” to climate change. In this context, adaptation touches on issues of participation, cultural impacts, and a community’s basic needs and ability to function. This broad set of justice concerns around adaptation is not only reactive but also reconstructive, which suggests adaptation can be transformative.