Climate justice is an ethical and political argument. It forces us to understand the challenges faced by the people and communities who are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This is an injustice when the people who have contributed least to the roots of climate change suffer most. It can only be remedied by ambitious climate action, including dropping emissions to zero as swiftly & rapidly as possible. Climate justice also notifies us how we should perform to combat climate change. In the context of climate justice, the effects of climate change are related to the concepts of environmental justice which also includes historical responsibilities to climate change, equality, human rights & collective rights.
The intensified injustice of the impacts of climate change on people already fighting to overcome poverty, and who are least responsible for the causes of climate change, is what works most to spark the issues of climate justice. The prevailing climate change policy is not highly ambitious and does not satisfactorily address sufficient features of well-being that are unfavorably affected by climate-related vulnerabilities. Another reason that significantly affects the ability of the developing countries to self-finance ambitious adaptation and mitigation programs is that these countries are being compelled to prioritize disaster recovery because of the worsening of the impacts of climate change. We need to set the ambitions high enough to achieve climate justice but the bar of expectation has been set so low in the measurements of effort expected from the major industrialized economies.And for this, the approach by the superpowers to climate justice should be molded around a set of ideologies that link human rights and development to achieve a human-centered approach, safeguarding the rights of the most vulnerable people and climate change impacts justifiably and legitimately.
Mary Robinson, the first woman President of Ireland (1990-1997) and a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002) quotes: “We must all be alert to the very real possibility that the most vulnerable people could be left behind as we transition to a low carbon economy. A transition to zero carbon has multiple opportunities for people in developed and developing countries in terms of energy security, job creation, and greater resilience but these opportunities will only be realized if that transition is fair, respecting human rights obligations. By considering human rights in planning, designing and implementing climate action, policymakers can avoid harmful unintended consequences while maximizing the social benefit of their programs and projects.”
High ambition to achieve climate justice is especially needed from three areas: diplomacy, science, and law.
Firstly Diplomacy.The plethora of diplomatic actions on climate change carried out by the governments of the major developed countries and other actors can help bring climate justice to the least developed nations. More emphasis on the formation of the High Ambition Coalition, a collective of some of the most vulnerable countries supplemented by some of the biggest emitters can pave the way to climate justice. These diplomatic efforts would permit the priorities of vulnerable countries -like securing a reference to 1.5̊C in the text – to be heard, amplified, enlarged and then reinforced by their advanced country negotiating partners. Climate diplomacy should be in such a way that ensures the voices of people in vulnerable situations to be heard and the decisions on climate change are participatory, liable and transparent.
Secondly Science.It is science that tells us that we have to keep global warming below 2oC beyond pre-industrial levels to escape the most devastating impacts of climate change. Science also tells us that there is no more way to stop 2̊C of warming and that the impacts of that warming already affect some parts of the world more significantly than others. The full implementation of climate research requires a flow of assets to evolving countries to empower them meeting their most ambitious targets.
Thirdly Law. The Paris Agreement is a universal, widespread and binding international agreement. It is, importantly, not a contracted environmental agreement – it is an agreement about sustainable development, energy transformation, economics, human right & dignity and the globe we pass on to future generations. The laws that will govern the enactment of the Paris Agreement are so significant at delivering action. The rules will need to be strong to strengthen what is a non-punitive obedience mechanism under the Agreement. Apart from these ones, other features of international law, from human rights law to trade law are also vital and will have to cultivate and adapt to be fit for the determination in a climate exaggerated world.
Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology (BUET)