Climate Justice Is Possible—Just Look Beyond Technology

Some try to drive systemic change from the ground up. Peter Mui founded the Fixit Clinic, which trains people to repair their own devices. That’s good for the climate because it reduces waste and demand for new products and raw materials. But many devices can’t be fixed, due to things like packaging, design choices, or copyright enforcement. Capitalism, basically.

Mui’s work involves fighting back in small ways—figuring out how to repair or hack the nuts and bolts of complex hardware, despite manufacturer roadblocks, and advocating for those roadblocks to be removed. But his broader aim is to help bring about a different system of manufacturing, “an alternative future where most of the things that we consume are built regionally or locally,” he said.

Work towards those kinds of alternative futures is already happening. “No community is waiting for people to save them,” said Sarah Shanley Hope, a vice president at the Solutions Project. She described a concept called “multi-solving”—how technologies like solar panels can offer not just green power, but also jobs and energy savings. Those combined benefits allow climate projects to become a catalyst, sparking grassroots organizing for policies that make green projects more accessible to communities on the frontlines of climate change. Climate action, she said, is about “community care.”

Colette Pichon Battle, an activist and lawyer from Southern Louisiana who leads vision and initiatives at Taproot Earth, a climate justice organization, called on the audience to think outside an economic and social system that can incentivize the destruction of individual communities. “It sacrifices people like me,” she said. “It sacrifices places like the South.” The transition to green energy cannot simply repeat the patterns of extraction. “We have to stop telling ourselves this lie that transition from one form of repression to another will save us.”

Patricia Hidalgo-Gonzalez speaks onstage during RE:WIRED Green hosted by WIRED at SFJAZZ Center on September 28, 2022 in San Francisco, California.Photograph: Kimberly White/Getty Images

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