Live from COP21: The common voice of climate justice

UPF:s very own UFS-representative and board member, Kajsa Fernström Nåtby, is, together with Klara Ezvik Nyström from UF Uppsala, spending the week in Paris, following COP21. This is the first of a series of posts about their experience there. Enjoy! 

One of many actions during COP21. Source: Kajsa Fernström Nåtby

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 of fairness in regards developing countries and developed countries, and their contributions. For example, developed countries historic emissions of greenhouse gases are causing a lot of discussion on how this “debt” should be handled. 

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 that countries can be divided into, this is how they are referred to during 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, focused on. 

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 hardest hit by climate change. This is a topic that have been more and more prominent in the negotiations during recent years due to momentum created by civil society. Last but not least is the urgent issue of how climate change will affect coming generations and how their quality of life will be affected by this generations decisions. Although that question is not highlighted in the negotiations, and  as of right now, coming generations are not mentioned at all in the agreement.

Scarce water supplies in the dry landscape of Namibia, an increasing issue with the accelerating effects of climate change. Source: Kajsa Fernström Nåtby

Climate justice has turned into a mantra frequently used by environmental organisations 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, organisation 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:

“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”Pierre Branciard, Technical staff UNFCCC

“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.”

– Jonas Dahlström, representative from the delegation of Tuvalu

“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.”
– Marcel Llavero Pasquian, working with PUSH Sweden
and Uppsala University at COP21

The people gotta rise like the water, Gotta calm this crisis down.
Hear the voices of our great granddaughters,
Singing Climate Justice Now!
song from a demonstration in the public area of the negotiations

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 able 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!

Source: Kajsa Fernström Nåtby

Kajsa Fernström Nåtby  and Klara Ezvik Nyström

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