Updated: Oct 4, 2019
Action on climate change is one of the key issues of the 2019 federal election. Recent research has found that there is a broad consensus among Canadians that climate action is needed. The outcome of October’s election will determine what Canada’s climate strategy will look like.
Climate change intersects with many social justice perspectives, including disability justice. Disabled persons may experience serious worsening of chronic health problems as a direct result of extreme weather and air pollution. Natural disasters that destroy public infrastructure and decrease access to healthcare put disabled lives at risk—as do evacuation plans that do not account for accessibility. Disabled people disproportionately live in poverty. This means that they are less able to prepare for emergency scenarios by stockpiling food and other day-to-day essentials. It also means that they are more likely to be unhoused, or housing insecure, and therefore vulnerable to extreme weather events.
In Canada and abroad, climate change and environmental policies most impacts and disables already marginalized communities. In Canada, over 40 water advisories exist for First Nations’ water systems, this federal oversight disables Indigenous communities. The federal government has also recently intervened in conflicts between First Nations and extractive corporations around issues of climate justice, clean water and pollution, and has legitimized use of force against First Nations people.
Canada’s environmental and economic policies and practices, have also directly caused disablement and environmental degradation abroad. With the prospect reality of mass climate migration becoming a necessary reality, it’s important to consider that many countries Canada continues to have eugenic immigration policies that directly or indirectly exclude disabled persons.
At the same time, recent discussions around climate action have often implicitly framed disability and accessibility as barriers to sustainability (and vice versa)—for example, the recent trend of campaigns and laws to ban plastic straws and other single-use plastics. Disabled people have pointed out that plastic straws are important accessibility tools for many people, and current alternatives do not offer the same level of safety, functionality and affordability. In cases where plastic straws are made available only upon request, disabled people have reported having their needs gatekept by staff who believe they don’t look “disabled enough”.
This kind of artificial conflict between disability and sustainability is also created in discussions about transportation, civic infrastructure and consumer behaviour, that fail to account for the access needs and socioeconomic situations of many disabled people. A more explicitly eugenic logic is often involved in discussions about overpopulation, where people raise the question of, ““whether our consumption is worth our contribution””, or suggest strategies to limit the reproduction of, primarily poor, disabled and / or nonwhite people.
The new federal government will make decisions about what kind of broad approach Canada should take in its climate action. These decisions will impact disabled Canadians both in terms of how effectively they address climate change, and in terms of how they account for factors like accessibility, poverty, and health justice. In this online town hall, we will be discussing:
your concerns around climate change as it relates to your experiences of disability
your experiences with environmental politics as a disabled person
what kinds of disability-engaged climate policies you would like
how you would like federal politicians to engage with disabled people around climate change
This discussion will be co-hosted by @djnontario, @alexhaagaard and @mssinenomine who will be tweeting questions every ten minutes starting at ten past the hour. You can see the questions by navigating to the profile of any of these accounts.
@alexhaagaard and @mssinenomine will be retweeting the responses that people post, so you can follow their accounts to see the rest of the discussion. You can also search Twitter for the #CripTheVote hashtag, and set the search page to "Latest", to see everything that is being tweeted to the hashtag.
We realize that Twitter chats can be hard to follow for some people. While the chat is taking place, @djnontario will be tweeting the chat questions only. If you are having trouble keeping track of the chat, you can click on the @djnontario profile and check that account's feed to find out which questions have been posted.
You can also find the chat questions at the bottom of this post.
After the discussion takes place, we will be posting a summary of it to the DJNO blog.
This discussion is about climate justice and its relationship to disability justice. We will be discussing how the marginalization of disabled people intersects with other forms of oppression including racism, colonialism, poverty, cissexism and heterosexism.
Racism, trans antagonism, homophobia, misogyny and lateral ableism are not welcome in this discussion and will not be amplified by the host accounts.
Remember to use the #CripTheVote hashtag when you tweet, so that others can see what you are saying!
If you respond to a question such as Q1, your tweet should follow this format: “A1 [your message] #CripTheVote.
You may also want to include other relevant hashtags with your tweet, such as #CdnPoli #elxn43 #ItsYourVote #ClimateChange #StrawBan and #SuckItAbleism . This can help other people on Twitter to find and read what you are saying.
Please introduce yourself! If you’re comfortable with sharing, where in Canada do you live?
As a disabled person, what concerns you the most about climate change?
Have you ever been in a situation where your access needs were framed as unsustainable or “bad for the environment”? How did that affect you?
Why do you think that disabled people’s access needs get labelled as environmentally unsustainable? What needs to happen for that to change?
Let’s flip the script. What might society be able to learn from disabled people about living in a sustainable way?
What would a climate strategy that includes justice for all disabled people look like?
What is one important thing that you would like Canada’s federal parties to understand about climate justice and disability? Feel free to tag them in your responses! @CPC_HQ @CanadianGreens @liberal_party @NDP