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Climate Justice

The effects of climate change are seen in media or live on a daily basis. But the complexity of climate justice – concept connecting all aspects of climate change – from agriculture to Western debts – are not easy to comprehend. For that purpose we developed following pages: for you to understand the concept of climate justice, to learn about it, getting news and updates as well as access further resources for studying or teaching and getting active yourselves through our Climate Action Hub.

What is Climate Justice?

  • Our perspective

The idea of climate justice came as a response to the historical injustice caused by today developed countries to the developing countries and indigenous communities.

Climate change is now widely accepted in the scientific community and it is to lead to a rapid ecological change effects such as increased droughts, sea-level rise, desertification and extreme weather events. It is nowadays one of the greatest challenges of communities around the world. For short introduction and resources about climate change go here and for exploring the science of climate change click here.

However, Climate justice is not merely about climate change. It considers the climate change an ethical issue and links human rights and development to secure the rights of the most vulnerable and bring about equitable global development. Thats why concept of climate justice covers many different aspects: environmental, human rights, gender, social, political, developmental and many more.

  • Scottish government perspective: The World’s First Climate Justice Fund and beyond

First Minister Alex Salmond and Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, launched Scotland’s Climate Justice Fund representing the first fund of this kind in the World.

The Scottish Government is providing £3 million for the fund – one million per year for the next three years – which will support water projects in Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia – increasing communities’ resilience to the impacts of climate change.

Gillian Wilson, Chief Executive of the Network of International Development Organisations of Scotland, said: “ NIDOS warmly welcomes the announcement of the Climate Justice Fund which shows the Scottish Government’s recognition of our ’climate debt’ to poorer countries.

Mr Salmond and Ms Robinson also called for other countries to share Scotland’s ambition in this area. It is necessary that countries follow climate justice and reduce their carbon emissions.

Discover more about Scottish government perspective on climate justice.

  • A view from the Global South

Focus on the Global South wrote: ‘Plato wrote the familiar phrase: “a true creator is necessity, which is the mother of invention.” Maybe it is not surprising, then, that the most novel proposals for how to solve the current crisis and all the damage it has wrought on people and the planet aren’t coming from Wall Street or the World Bank; they’re coming from the places that have suffered the most at the hands of the economic downturn, the tsunamis and other natural disasters, the loss of farmland to drought and industrial farming, and the gobbling up of forests and natural resources by corporations.’

Get more southern perspectives – views from around the world here.

 

Climate injustice

Developed countries have been emitting greenhouse emissions into atmosphere since the Industrial revolution in order to ensure an easier and cheaper way towards industrialization and wealth. These gases remain in our atmosphere for decades causing acid rains, rising sea-level and other on-going environmental changes.

The industrialized nations have been benefiting from these emissions on account of rest of the world, as they have counted for around 70% of carbon emissions even when they represent solemn 20% of the world population.[1] Therefore, the rich countries bare the most responsibility to act to address climate change and, moreover, face an ethical obligation to share the benefits with people in developing countries who today suffer the most for the consequences of climate change. Read about this one and five other climate justice myths.

Many may claim that in percentage of gas emissions nowadays are China and India in leading positions in order to meet their development needs, however, the per capita emissions are still relatively low.

 

Who does climate injustice affect?

The population that is the least responsible for climate change experiences its greatest impacts, including indigenous peoples, peasant communities, fisher folk, and especially women in all of these communities. They all have been able to live harmoniously and sustainably with their environment, however the negative impacts of climate change caused heat-related health diseases, lack of water supplies or loss of crops on their fields due to extreme weather. These people are not only endangered by the consequences of the climate change, but also the most affected by the wrong solutions, such as agro fuels, mega-dams, genetic modification, tree plantations and carbon offset schemes.[2]

However greatly and unfairly it affects these communities, climate change does affect everyone. How? Here you can find a comparison of interesting case studies of communities all around the world as well as here in Scotland affected by climate change

 

How do communities tackle this problem?

Examples of communities taking action to fight against climate change all around the world and here in Scotland.

 

What needs to be done?

Dorothy-Grace Guerrero, a Filipino educator from Focus on the Global South, organises courses, workshops and conferences on the climate change and climate justice issues; social and environmental impacts of free trade, social transformation and democratisation and many others. Here is a wee summary of her presentation about climate change given at the Edinburgh Climate Justice Conference 2013:

Climate change refers to the disruption of the global climate and weather system due to man-made greenhouse gas emissions:

  • The way goods are produced
  • Consumption patterns and lifestyle in the North and the elites in the South
  • Operations by corporations (fossil fuel industries, large-scale projects, etc.) that are causing/producing disproportionally large amounts of GHGs and institutions that promote such activities.

In order to fight the effects of climate change, we need to promote genuine solutions that include:

  • Leaving fossil fuels in the ground and instead encourage investments in appropriate, energy-efficient, safe, clean and community-led renewable energy;
  • Huge financial transfers from North to South, based on the repayment of climate debts and subject to democratic control.
  • At the same time re-allocate state budgets to ensure financing for adaptation and mitigation by redirecting military budgets, innovative taxes and debt cancellation

If you wonder what you can do individually to tackle the problem of climate change and turn concern into action, have a look at our guide.

  • Developed countries

In order to achieve climate justice, rich countries that have been first to industrialize must share their responsibility for decades of carbon emission into atmosphere on account of developing countries, what ensured their wealth and development.

Besides cutting carbon emissions themselves, it is necessary to provide transfer of funds and technology to help less developed countries in their solving the consequences and costs of low carbon economy. Some scientists have called this a ‘natural debt’ of developed towards developing countries and according to Christian Aid report they should be owing over 600 billion dollars for associate causes of climate change. This is three times that much what developing countries own in conventional debt.[3]

New systematic framework is needed to ensure reasonable and lasting solving of climate change but little can be done without the world leading economies settling on the issue. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was formulated and then signed and ratified in 1992 with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. Its following Kyoto of 1997 protocol fails to protect the rights of most vulnerable communities while ensuring financial gains of big corporations. UN COP20 in Lima following year and moreover Paris 2020 are big dates for the future commitments of developing countries.

We must also change the dominant, corporate-driven political policies that drive both the global competition for energy and climate change.

  • Developing countries

As previously mentioned, developed countries should involve in a huge money transfer to communities in global South to help them tackle the consequences and prevention of climate change.

Moreover, it is needed that developing countries make transition to low carbon economy to avoid carbon intensive model of industrialisation that greatly caused nowadays climate change. People in low income countries must have access to opportunities to adapt to the impacts of climate change and embrace low carbon development to avoid future environmental damage.[4]

As Friends of the Earth proposed: ‘Key to the solution is energy sovereignty: the right of communities to choose their sustain able energy sources and to develop healthy consumption patterns that will lead to sustainable societies. This, combined with the need for greenhouse gas emissions reduction and for all people to share an equitable amount of resources within ecological limits, is essential to achieving climate justice.’[5]

  • Women

Women’s voices must be heard and their priorities supported as part of climate justice. In many countries and cultures, women are at the forefront of living with the reality of the injustices caused by climate change. They are critically aware of the importance of climate justice in contributing to the right to development being recognized and can play a vital role as agents of change within their communities.[6]

 

Problems related to Climate justice

There are plenty of issues connected directly or indirectly to climate justice. Ranging from environmental to human rights aspects, affecting communities in Global South as well as North, Scotland including.

Read more here about issues connected to climate justice.

 

Climate Justice Action Hub

Here a click to sub-page of Climate Justice Action Hub.

The Hub tackles in an interactive and informative way the whole complex issue of climate justice. The first and most important step what you can do as an individual is to learn about the problem and find out the possible way of making positive impact by getting active yourselves.

See what others are doing and find out what you can do yourself! Click on sub-pages of:

[1] http://www.mrfcj.org/pdf/Principles-of-Climate-Justice.pdf

[2] http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2013/smsn/un/306.pdf

[3] http://www.foei.org/en/what-we-do/climate-and-energy/learn-more

[4] http://www.mrfcj.org/pdf/Principles-of-Climate-Justice.pdf

[5] http://globaljusticeecology.org/pressroom.php?ID=233

[6] http://www.globalissues.org/article/231/climate-justice-and-equity

 

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