What is climate justice?
Climate justice is about ensuring fairness and equity when tackling climate change and its impacts. Climate action — such as climate mitigation efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the financing of climate adaptation measures — should be the main responsibility of those who contribute the most to global warming, i.e. wealthy, industrialised economies. People living in fragile and conflict-affected settings are impacted the most by climate change, yet they have contributed the least to global heating.
Climate justice isn’t just about moral responsibility; supporting those affected the most is mandatory under international law, as declared by the UN Human Rights Council in October 2021. A clean, healthy and sustainable environment is the human right of all.
The principles of climate justice
Based on the principles of equity, human rights, and responsibility, climate justice links environmental, economic, social and intergenerational justice.
Although climate change concerns and affects everyone, its causes and effects are unevenly spread. The people who contribute the least to climate change bear the brunt of the world’s most polluting economies.
A fair distribution of the costs and benefits of transitioning to a low-carbon economy is needed. The costs of climate action should not fall disproportionately on those who are least able to afford them.
Climate policies and programs should be designed and implemented in a way that accommodates the diverse needs and perspectives of all communities, especially those that have been historically marginalised.
Current generations have a responsibility to future generations, to ensure they inherit a sustainable, liveable planet.
Cordaid and its partners have been working in fragile and conflict-affected settings for over 100 years, and more recently, we’ve collectively been tackling the impacts of the climate crisis through our programs.
In many fragile and conflict-affected settings, the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation frustrate efforts to consolidate peace and stability. Floods, deforestation, reduced agricultural land and extreme weather events displace communities, destroy livelihoods and feed intercommunal tensions in ways that fuel, deepen, or prolong conflicts.
Indeed, in 2020 the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reported that, in the past 60 years, at least 40% of interstate conflicts have been linked to natural resource management issues, including water and land disputes exacerbated by climate change (SIPRI Yearbook 2020: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security).
Therefore, striving for climate justice in fragile and conflict-affected settings demands a specific approach. The Climate-Peace-Security nexus is about understanding the interlinkages between climate and peace & security. That these linkages exist is widely acknowledged and increasingly addressed through development cooperation.
This is why Cordaid adopts a climate transformative approach in all its activities, where science, local knowledge and humanity/dignity are symbiotic, working in tandem to change the behaviours that impact climate and the environment.