Climate Change And Climate Justice: A Challenge For The Future To Reconcile Reality And Utopia

Many parts of the world are already dealing with man-made climate change. We can see the consequences and the direct effects of it at a glance: melting glaciers, stratospheric ozone depletion, rising sea levels, desertification and degradation of lands, increasing floods and droughts, declining water resources (both in quality and quantity), and recurring heat waves. Furthermore, this unfortunate situation includes the modification of long-established agricultural practices, and threats lo livelihood, natural resources, biodiversity, and much more.

Climate change is moving so fast and is so uncontrolled that many animal species and plants are struggling to survive and are under threat of extinction from the constant rise of global temperatures.

Of course, the first question we ask ourselves is: where did this problem come from? A considerable part of the responsibility lies with the rich, industrialized countries: by any reckoning, they are the cause of the worst disasters with a quite huge impact in terms of breaking the rules of environmental regulation.

Europe contributes materially to climate change, and this is of course not a positive thing to report: multinational corporations are united in their transgressions against the environment, and they are the number one cause of global warming. In common with all the developed countries, a plan should be put in place to save what it is still possible to save, as long as Europe is one of the regions that should reduce its consumption of the world’s resources and its control over them,

Better direction in private and public finance, investments in more respectful initiatives, deep and focused emission cuts per country, legal frameworks in each country, and taxation for those who exceed the allowed level of resources consumption: these could be considered as obvious solutions. Some of them have already been adopted as “solutions”, but are they fully respected? The answer is no.

Climate justice is working hard on those matters, and it focuses on the climate crisis whilst taking steps towards equity and protecting human rights, too.

But the question that young people and the international green movement are now addressing in Europe is not exactly to look at what has happened as a consequence of past human abuses… the question is rather ‘how to make sure that people, resources, the environment and the economy all stand together to benefit?’ – and there is not exactly an easy answer, nor is there one that established Institutions are giving.

A long term commitment to thinking about the issue fundamentally is needed, and soon.

Since 1990 we have decreased our emissions 18%, but the European target for 2020 is much more ambitious, and policy measures are needed to reach the settled goals, above all if we are to have a real chance to meet the objectives for 2030: Countries of Europe should shoulder their responsibilities and cut gas emissions across the Union by targeting a minimum of 40%, adopt an adequate and appropriate transfer of clean technologies, increase renewables by 27%, improve energy efficiency by 30%, and promulgate policies to rectify the overuse of energy everywhere, especially all those factors enlarging the “climate debt”.  

Numerous Associations, pro-green NGOs, Institutions, and Stakeholders are fighting to bring about a greener future and to convince the world to adopt new policies. Actually, according to a UNA-UK report anticipating the Paris meeting for global climate change – UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – we read that “First of all, developing country leadership can change the dynamic where people, mostly in the developed world, think that they can ‘pressure’ developing countries to act” and “Secondly, if those involved listen to the views of the developing world and understand their needs, then the role of climate finance can be properly understood”. These two actions, if undertaken, would encourage a balance between technological support and economic considerations, two factors that are having a large impact on European society.

Climate change needs justice as never before, it threatens global capabilities and performance and poses risks to human beings; it is essential that people to raise the issue and insist that Governments start to move in the direction of a better understanding of the topic for more effective solutions. It goes without saying that the European Union cannot act alone in this process. We are talking about a global phenomenon that affects all of us from the local to the international level, and there is a need to move in the direction of common rules and points of intervention.

The responsibilities of individual countries can vary within the larger framework of a common plan, and each country can take targeted action to address those problems that affect it directly. But the lack of coordination between developed and developing countries must be rectified, so that they can collaborate in a more structured way, taking into account the vulnerabilities of some countries and the common challenge of climate change and its consequences.

Climate justice advocates protecting humanity and moving towards a better, action-oriented approach to reducing consumption, improving energy efficiency, choosing sustainable locally-produced food, creating greener practices, and switching to clean, renewable power.

Moreover, the climate justice movement is struggling to achieve a more productive economic system based on mobilizing and involving citizens and challenging policy-makers, institutions and corporations to accomplish fixed objectives and goals, with emphasis on the following ones:

– dealing with and tackling economic, social, and legal inequality within Europe and its member countries consistent with the right to have safer, cleaner, and community-led renewable energy;

– creating a common framework for a European regulatory regime to protect environmentally displaced citizens as part of their human rights, and adding benchmarks in terms of geographical respect for an equal distribution of resources;

– leaving fossil fuels in the ground and adopting alternative options;

– reducing waste production and obligating all countries to adopt an efficient system for disposing of garbage plus supporting safe and correct food processing;

– investing money and effort into better, community-led renewable energy, and sharing best practices all over Europe to make it work globally, including European grants for sustaining research in the field (e.g.: H2020 Programme);

– establishing transfer payments and tax incentives to address currently existing climate debts;

– promulgating national legislation to establish targets between regions in order to confront and eventually correct disparities in annual expenditure and consumption.

The last question humming in our ears is: are these objectives possible given current realities, or are we talking utopia and impossible plans? The answer lies more in our hands than in further discussion. Only action can bring about change.

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