Equality lies at the heart of the Green Party, and of the Green movement more widely. Many argue, rightly, that to achieve true climate justice, we must achieve social justice too: it’s news to nobody even remotely interested in Green politics that the richest 10% of the global population produce 50% of all carbon emissions, a fact which is truly staggering, and brings into focus the wealth divide which does so much damage to our society, and to our planet. But social injustice doesn’t stop there — of course it doesn’t: the pandemic, and recent social movements including Black Lives Matter, Trans Rights, and the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on disabled people, have all highlighted the deep-rooted inequalities in our society, amplifying the voices which are so seldom fully represented in politics and society. All of these inequalities serve as barriers to achieving the Green Party’s ambition for a sustainable and brighter future.
Climate justice and social justice are so intrinsically linked that it is impossible to prioritise one over the other; they are both essential to reach a net-carbon economy and sustainable society, and are often one and the same. But I do oppose the argument that the sole reason we fight for social justice as a member of the Green Party is to achieve our climate change goals. It’s a reason, no doubt, but by no means the most important one: a fair, functioning society, with equal opportunity, universal access to food and amenities, and affordable housing — amongst so many other things — is not only desirable, but essential in its own right, and the vision which drives my work around equality, diversity and inclusion. I wholeheartedly believe that everyone is entitled to be treated equally, with respect, dignity, and kindness. George Monbiot recently tweeted, “Love is the value that should govern public life. If that sounds ridiculous, it shows only how far from our interests public life has strayed. By showing love to each other, we start building the society in which we wish to live.”
This may sound a little far-fetched, playing to the hippie stereotype which still haunts the Green Party to this day, but I agree entirely with the principle. The diversity which we are lucky enough to have in our society is both significantly undervalued, and in desperate need of protection. That which so many Young Greens, amongst others, celebrate and cherish, others fear, seeing diversity as a threat to what they personally know and understand, leading them to put up their fences when it comes to diversity and inclusion.
I am proud to call myself a Young Green: our policies on trans people, for example, ensure full equality and acceptance, and we have acted in solidarity with marginalised groups, standing up for those whose rights are under threat. But, as ever, there is more to do, and I am determined to ensure we continue to make real, meaningful progress towards full equality and representative diversity in our party and beyond. The rise of right-wing populism has made marginalised groups increasingly vulnerable, and it is more important than ever before that we demonstrate our solidarity with them not just through words, but through meaningful action too.
As a disabled person, I understand some, but by no means all, of the issues which can be created when my voice and the voices of other disabled people are left unheard during discussions and debate, because they are not deemed as important as those of others. I know how frustrating inaccessibility can be, preventing me from engaging with the same opportunities as my sighted peers, and limiting my potential from the outset.
As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, I understand some of the fear around the rise in the number of attacks on rights from governments around the world, most recently demonstrated in the result of the Polish election earlier on in July. I am deeply concerned that those in government, who hold the power to make decisions which will directly impact me, don’t have my best interests at heart, nor do they share my belief in equality for all, no matter what.
But I also recognise that this is a tiny drop in the ocean. Even amongst other visually impaired people, I have more to learn, and regularly engage in informative discussions surrounding accessibility issues which either don’t directly affect me, or which I haven’t come into contact with before, in order to gain insight from those who have direct personal experience. Within the LGBTQIA+ community, there is so much diversity, and so many perspectives and issues to consider which I would never have had a full understanding of beforehand. In all of these situations, it is vital that I listen, to gain as full an understanding as possible, rather than jumping to unfounded assumptions and misguided conclusions. Nothing speaks louder, or is more important, than direct personal experience; this is why it is so crucial to amplify the voices of marginalised groups, including people of colour, trans people, disabled people, sex workers, and others, to allow them to tell their stories, and to then support them to push for a fully inclusive, equal society.
The Green Party more broadly is far from immune from issues relating to diversity. As leadership candidate Rosemary Sexton put it during her campaign for this summer’s internal election: “If you ask an average person in the street about the Green Party, they think vegan, hippie environmentalists. …”. Sadly, she’s not wrong, and I think this would also, still, extend to “white” and “middle-class” too. Whilst I believe the Young Greens has a better track record on the whole, we have to do so much more to actively prove that our movement is inclusive by its very nature, and that we recognise the need to ensure diversity is key in everything we do. The Young Greens must be open and accessible to all young people, no matter their background, or how they identify, and we must ensure that this is front-and-centre in all of our actions, communications, and campaigns.
A Green future is dependent on us striving for, and achieving, true social justice. However, those who seek equality solely as a step to sustainability fail to understand the importance of social justice on a social, political and economic level. I want the Young greens to be at the forefront of the fight for justice, to play a proactive role in amplifying the voices of marginalised groups, and to ensure that both our party, and our vision for the future, is accessible, inclusive, and continues to empower everyone, protecting the diversity we welcome and celebrate each and every day.
Promoted and Produced by Kelsey Trevett as part of their campaign for election to the post of Non-Portfolio Officer. This is not an official communication from the Young Greens.