One out of many protests at the conference. Photo: Kajsa Fernström Nåtby and Klara Elzvik Nyström.
World leaders are trying to find a way to fight climate change, but what is the just way to do it?
The second week of COP21 has taken off and the ministers have arrived to discuss the political issues. A draft of the agreement is finalized, but with a lot of questions left to be answered. The discussions are now taking place in groups with focus on different key questions. One of those focus groups is dealing with the burning matter of differentiation, with regards to mitigation, finance and transparency. That group needs to handle the question about fairness connected to the issue that developing countries and developed countries are making equally efforts, since developed countries have a greater wealth. Partly because of their historic emissions of greenhouse gases.
This matter comes down to the question of justice, climate justice. Developing countries express their right to less strict mitigation goals. They also demand that developed countries has a responsibility to finance green development and climate adaptation in the less developed countries. Although there is no such thing as two categories the countries of that the world can be divided into, it is in this way they are referred to in the negotiations. A lot of focus is directed to whether or not big economies with increasing development such as China and India should be obliged to contribute financially and if their emission reduction should or should not be less ambitious than developed countries. These are the aspects of climate justice that the negotiations are, and historically have been, discussing the most.
Furthermore the question of climate justice also comes down to who actually is affected by the climate change. This discussion circulates around the fact that women, children, people without resources and indigenous people are worst affected by climate change. This is a topic that has been more and more prominent in the negotiations during recent years due to momentum created by the civil society. Last but not least is the urgent issue affecting the coming generations and their possibilities to live on our planet. Although that question is not highlighted in the negotiations. Right now coming generations are not mentioned at all in the agreement.
Climate justice has developed into a mantra frequently used by environmental organizations all over the world and can be heard in the corridors of the public areas of COP21. What climate justice illustrates is different to every country, organizations and person. The individual approach to climate justice is fundamentally relevant for the developing the discussion. It’s important not to generalize the different background stories that has built up the powerful message that climate justice is.
Walking around at the COP21 area here in Paris we stopped some people to ask what climate justice has meant to them.
Pierre Branciard, Technical staff UNFCCC: “For me climate justice is to know that we are all human being and living at one planet, we are all human species, we are all brother. Our impact of waste and pollution air doesn’t stop at the border. We have to be aware of that here in a developed country, in europe and in the US our way of living here is not sustainable.”
Jonas Dahlström, representative from the delegation of Tuvalu: “That all countries should be able to have equally strong voices in the negotiations. Today the countries who are affected by climate change the most are the ones with least insight in the negotiations.”
Marcel Llavero Pasquian, working with PUSH Sweden and Uppsala University at COP21: “To me Climate Justice is the respect of human, humanity and nature rights. Climate justice is rethinking the relationships between communities, where the responsible pay accountability to damnified. Climate Justice is rethinking our relation towards Mother Earth acknowledging that we are living in a planet with boundaries, and that respecting Nature means respecting humanity.”
Vindar Fritzell, YMCA: “Developed countries must take a leading position in reducing emissions based on their historical responsibility. The Paris agreement should establish the principle of ’loss and damage’ as a mechanism in order to prevent and restore damage caused by climate change in the LDC:s. This should include a substantial funding and support on how to minimize the risks of climate change.”
Stefan Nyström, the Swedish government’s environmental council: “Climate justice means the right for all human beings to live in a world unaffected by global warming — and a responsibility to accordingly in relation to our individual possibilities to do so.”
The rebuilding of trust and respect we need is under reconstruction during this climate conference in Paris. That’s also one of the reasons behind the exclusive power of climate justice as a fighting mantra. Without the integrated global collaboration, this meeting will never succeed and the world needs a international runner who is abel l to unite countries with very different stories. If you listen to these stories you will soon hear a common voice, a voice of trust and respect, telling us to act now.
Written by Kajsa Fernström Nåtby (UPF Lund) and Klara Elzvik Nyström (UF Uppsala), who are reporting this week from Paris, together sharing a deep interest in climate change and how it affects our planet.