Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Climate Justice

An increasing concern is how changes in our climate will affect the most vulnerable members of society:
Climate justice - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Whilst the concept has radical roots...
Peaceful Uprising
Dissent and Escalation | Robert Friedman's Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC
Climate Youth Lead #XLDISSENT Civil Resistance to Ensure Our Civil Existence | Tom Weis

... it has become very mainstream:

The Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice (MRFCJ) is a centre for thought leadership, education and advocacy on the struggle to secure global justice for those people vulnerable to the impacts of climate change who are usually forgotten - the poor, the disempowered and the marginalised across the world...

Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice

Climate change campaign

Since 2007, Christian Aid has been campaigning on climate change, highlighting the impact it is already having on the world’s poorest, as they try to lift themselves out of poverty.
As Christians we are called to love our neighbours, many of whom are poor and already suffering the effects of climate change. We can demonstrate our love by making choices about how we live our lives and by campaigning to tackle climate change.
You’ve already made a big difference: from ensuring the UK Government created a strong climate change bill to halting the building of a coal power station in Kingsnorth.
Together, we continue to call for climate justice.
Act now David Cameron is under pressure to back down on his climate commitments. Ask Cameron and Clegg to hold firm on their climate commitments at the European talks this March.

Whilst this is an issue which affects people across the world, it has real implications for people here in the UK. This is from the Rural Services Network:

Climate change and social justice

Monday, 24 February 2014 14:55

Climate change and social justice
The impacts of climate change and policies to adapt to climate change may have unequal repercussions, including for vulnerable groups, finds Brian Wilson.
Given the severe flood and storm conditions this winter, it seems fitting to look at a new publication by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation which considers the implications for social justice in the UK arising from climate change. It asks if events such as flooding and heatwaves will have differing impacts for different population groups or places – a question with some obvious rural implications.
The publication itself is a review of the available evidence, which was undertaken by the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE), assisted by Oxford and Manchester universities.
They conclude that this topic – climate justice – is not well understood. Although a fair amount is known about the groups most likely to be affected by a changing climate, there has been little work to look at the implications of adapting to or mitigating for it.
Whilst too recent to be included within this publication, it now seems clear that there are profound implications for some of our low-lying rural and coastal areas from adaption policies which have been implemented with regard to flood risk. Hence the CSE's reference to "the way the costs and benefits of climate change policy are distributed".
Unsurprisingly, the factors which make people vulnerable to climate change impacts are most acute amongst certain groups, typically older people, those on low incomes and tenants. For example, older people are physiologically at greater risk from the health impacts of extreme heat or cold. Tenants are more vulnerable because they cannot easily modify their homes and low-income groups are more likely to live in poor quality housing.
The report notes that close-knit communities are better at responding to emergency situations and this is where rural communities may often prove surprisingly resilient. However, there can still be socially isolated individuals.
The CSE report also finds that low income groups pay proportionately more (as a share of their income) for carbon emission and reduction measures. The cost of fuel and vehicle excise duty represents over 8% of the budget of the poorest tenth of car owners, but is less than 6% of the budget for the richest tenth. We know that car ownership is high among the rural poor.
The report similarly refers to green taxes or levies on energy bills. That situation, of course, has recently altered, with green taxes no longer applied to energy bills and now being funded out of general taxation. It can be argued this is a more progressive approach, in terms of where the tax falls.
A further intriguing issue raised by the report is the distributional impact of green growth and jobs. No evidence is put forward about this. The question posed is whether initiatives for green growth could be pursued in ways that favour those with the greatest economic needs.
A number of policy conclusions are reached by CSE, the most fundamental being that the development of policies to mitigate for climate change should take greater account of objectives for tackling poverty and disadvantage. This message is aimed both at central and local government.
Defra's National Adaptation Programme acknowledges the possibility of impacts falling heaviest on the most vulnerable. Whitehall might also point towards its impact assessment process, whereby all major policy development is supposed to undergo some assessment for its impact on population groups.
Another conclusion is that policy should move beyond emergency planning and should seek to build the institutions and infrastructure needed to create permanent resilience across all social groups. It further adds that policy design should engage better with communities and ensure that those most affected have a voice in that process.
A case study on the RSN website illustrates how parish councils can play a key role. In Storrington and Sullington (West Sussex) the parish council has a scheme to assist older people during periods of extreme weather.
The CSE report notes that there are examples of practice at the local level which both adapt to climate change and which do so in socially just ways. Leeds City Council – which actually has a sizable rural periphery – is cited for its work to map residents vulnerable to climate change alongside environmental information on floods, drainage and the like. It would be useful to hear from other local authorities if they have good practice.
Finally and on a related theme, readers may like to note that the CSE is running a one day surgery on 18 March in Bristol for those interested in the Rural Community Energy Fund. Details are on their website.
This article was written by Brian Wilson whose consultancy, Brian Wilson Associates, can be contacted at brian@brianwilsonassociates.co.uk. Brian also acts as the RSN Research Director.

Climate change and social justice

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