The Global Irony of Climate Change Injustice

The discourse surrounding climate change is one of the largest and longest environmental debates running. We start with 19th century scientists, who introduced the idea of “greenhouse gasses” trapping heat within the Earth’s atmosphere. From this proposal, the conversation skyrockets for the next 200 years with a range of insights by the civil society, governments and corporate organisations.

The earth’s rising global temperature has resulted in abnormal changes to the ecological systems, in turn affecting the global population. Since then, this has caused a shift in typical seasonal cycles, species migration patterns and the earth’s physical geography.

Following the increase of empirical scientific research, such as the latest 1.5°C IPCC report, it is a global consensus that these changes can no longer be ignored. Even at the council meeting in Singapore, the WBCSD highlights the significance. Professor Joy Jacqueline Pereira, IPCC WG Vice Chair for Impacts and Adaptation, notes “We can already see the impacts of warming, and what can happen if you don’t take action. The people in this room and leaders in the WBCSD have decisions to make”.

This blog highlights the imperative point the IPCC report makes about climate change inequality, which is a topic that historically has been widely overlooked. Climate change is more than just an environmental issue. To understand the root of climate change, we must consider the developed countries’ history of overconsumption, advancements in industrialisation and racial capital.

I still remember the apprehension I felt when I was around 12 years old; shivering in December under an umbrella from the belated ‘September showers’. A month later, I experienced my ‘White Christmas’ in Kent with a sleet storm in the middle of February. But turn on the news and you can witness the extremities unleashed by global warming all across the globe. Homes and lives are being ripped apart by terrors from floods to heat-waves and diseases. For example, the Philippines on average is hit with 19 typhoons a year. The super typhoon Haiyan killed more than 6,000 people in central Philippines in 2013.

A 2017 report ranks the likes of India, China and Brazil as countries with the largest shares of global CO2 emissions, creating this rhetoric that blame should be placed onto the global south. But historical emissions consider the accumulation of contribution and place the US, UK and Germany in the top 5. The global irony is that the top ten emitters are responsible for over 60% of emissions and the LEDCs with fewer resources to protect themselves from these extremities will be the most impacted.

Considering the future actions of governments, organisations and societies in power, perhaps what needs to be asked now is: who are these changes actually being made for? It is undeniable climate change is a global phenomenon. But by ‘global’, it has been implied the whole world is equally as affected by climate change. In reality, there are even more undeniably disproportionate effects between climate change and the global north and south. The next step towards the climate revolution cannot be taken until climate change’s economic, racial and social roots are addressed, in order to build an intersectional movement.

References

Clark, D. (2011) Which Nations are Most Responsible for Climate Change? Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/apr/21/countries-responsible-climate-change [Accessed 03 December 2018]

Conservation Magazine (2016) Climate Injustice: Those Who Emit the Least Pay the Most. Available at: https://www.conservationmagazine.org/2016/02/those-who-emit-least-pay-most/ [Accessed 03 December 2018]

Dillinger, J. (2017) Biggest Contributors to Global Warming in the World by Country. Available at: https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/biggest-contributors-to-global-warming-in-the-world.html [Accessed 01 December 2018]

Harding, S. (2007) A History of Climate Change. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2007/jan/08/climatechange.climatechangeenvironment [Accessed 01 December 2018]

IPCC (2018) Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5°C. Summary for Policymakers. Available at: https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/chapter/summary-for-policy-makers/ [Accessed 01 December 2018]

Met Office (2018) What is Climate Change. Available at: https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate-guide [Accessed 01 December 2018]

Waymarking (2018) Allegorical Figure of Lady Justice. Available at: http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMR1BF_Allegorical_Figure_of_Lady_Justice_Dublin_Castle_Dublin_Ireland [Accessed 03 December 2018]

WBCSD (2018) Ratcheting Business Climate Ambition for a 1.5 Degree Scenario. Available at: https://events.wbcsd.org/cm18/ratcheting-business-climate-ambition/ [Accessed 02 December 2018]

Xinhua (2018) Philippines Expects Up to 5 More Typhoons Until End of 2018. Available at: http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-09/18/c_137477124.htm [Accessed 02 December 2018]

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