Living within planetary limits requires attention to justice as biophysical boundaries are not inherently just. Through collaboration between natural and social scientists, the Earth Commission defines and operationalizes Earth system justice to ensure that boundaries reduce harm, increase well-being, and reflect substantive and procedural justice. Such stringent boundaries may also affect ‘just access’ to food, water, energy and infrastructure. We show how boundaries may need to be adjusted to reduce harm and increase access, and challenge inequality to ensure a safe and just future for people, other species and the planet. Earth system justice may enable living justly within boundaries.