The Conference of the Parties (COP) in Egypt this year is crucial. In Glasgow last year, countries pledged increased climate financing and committed to raising their goals, but in the end, fell short of the 1.5 degree Celsius global warming limit.
The conference in Egypt has a rare opportunity to take a much-needed step toward effective climate action.
Climate change will disproportionately harm women and children, especially girls, from underprivileged communities, where poverty, unemployment, and starvation are already more common.
Thus, the annual COP meetings must prioritize climate justice for women, children, and vulnerable communities in their quest for sustainable development, effective climate action, and an inclusive future.
3 steps for climate justice
Empowering marginalized populations and enhancing their resilience isn’t just the right thing to do; it would boost climate resilience and all climate action in general.
Evidence suggests that women make better climate leaders and that attaining Sustainable Development Goal 5 on Gender Equality can accelerate the other 16 SDGs. The Forum’s Global Shapers Gurugram Hub studied these links.
COP delegates can address climate justice in three ways.
Women, children, especially girls, and people from marginalized communities must be the primary beneficiaries of climate finance. This is especially important for the global south, which may not be able to contribute as much to climate finance as developed countries. Climate justice principles state that historically high-emitting developed countries should bear the lion’s share of climate financing in order to build climate resilience in developing countries. Not only should current emission rates be considered, but so should cumulative emissions.
During COP27, women and marginalized communities must be adequately represented in decision-making. COP26 was notorious for having a heavily skewed male representation. This effectively reduced women’s and marginalized communities’ agency, preventing them from advocating for their own rights and needs, as well as telling delegates how they can improve their own resilience.
Climate finance should prioritize programs aimed at increasing climate resilience for those most affected by climate injustice, rather than large corporations. 90 percent of climate finance has historically gone to large corporations with existing funding sources, while the amount spent on ensuring climate justice and resiliency is negligible in comparison.
The human face of the climate crisis
COP27 and its delegates must recognize that issues of people and society, such as gender inequality, poverty, and health, are not just side issues of sustainability, but are the human face of the climate crisis.
Environmental issues such as natural resource management, biodiversity, and other planet-related elements in COP27 discussions are critical — but without society, equity, and climate justice, the conference’s overarching goal will be lost. It will become merely an excuse for world leaders to prioritize their own agendas.
It is critical that the critical issue of climate justice be addressed effectively at COP27. Failure to do so risks plunging the world’s most vulnerable people deeper into the economic and social despair caused by the pandemic, which risks being exacerbated by climate change — unless the world intervenes at this year’s COP and ensures that any efforts to combat climate change do not overlook those most affected by it.