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Urgent call for climate justice: Addressing disparities and mobilizing action for vulnerable communities

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Urgent call for climate justice: Addressing disparities and mobilizing action for vulnerable communities

The youth in Nepal require employment opportunities, necessitating collaboration between the government and citizens to create an environment conducive to Nepali and foreign investment. Securing capital for green projects precedes the need for specific job opportunities

Climate change discriminates. It doesn’t impact the white-collar individuals sitting in air-conditioned rooms strategizing to maximize profits while maintaining an environmentally friendly brand. It doesn’t affect those with access to modern kitchen appliances like microwaves, ovens, and a variety of stoves. Instead, it affects the local fishermen who depend on fish for sustenance and income, as well as the women burdened with gathering biomass for cooking and heating food in rural, remote areas. Rampant deforestation in the name of ‘development’ has intensified the challenge of biomass collection, increasing the workload of women who are already burdened with unpaid responsibilities.

Have you observed the classist nature of climate change? Have you noticed how it disproportionately affects marginalized sections of society—those often deemed ‘unimportant’ or belonging to nations labeled as ‘developing’?

Considering how the impacts of climate change exacerbate the struggles faced by the lower echelons of society and developing nations, we urge action for climate justice.

A pivotal solution in addressing climate change is raising awareness. Educating individuals about climate change and its grassroots-level effects is crucial to empower informed actions. Mobilizing children and youth to champion the cause of climate justice and ignite a movement is imperative.

Children and youth, irrespective of socio-economic backgrounds, must advocate for climate justice. Providing them with resources and guidance to comprehend the reality of environmental issues is essential. Fostering sustainable mindsets through comprehensive education from a young age is key. These future generations must fully grasp concepts like climate change, carbon emissions, carbon footprint, carbon financing, green skills, and the multifaceted challenges stemming from climate change.

As young individuals, it’s vital for us to comprehend issues related to social justice, climate justice, and the evolving skill demands in the global market.

Green skills encompass the knowledge, abilities, and competencies individuals possess to contribute effectively to a sustainable, environmentally friendly economy. These skills are pivotal in addressing environmental challenges such as climate change, resource depletion, pollution, and habitat destruction.

Skills related to renewable energy—encompassing the generation, distribution, and management of sources like solar, wind, and hydroelectric power—are crucial in transitioning from fossil fuels. Nepal holds immense potential in hydroelectricity, which, if harnessed effectively, could lead to electricity export to neighboring countries like India and China.

Competencies in Waste Management and Recycling involve managing and reducing waste, promoting recycling, and implementing sustainable waste disposal methods. Equally important is knowledge about water conservation, efficient utilization of water resources, and wastewater treatment.

Developing eco-friendly products requires skills to create and promote products and services with reduced carbon footprints, ensuring environmental responsibility—a necessity in today’s context.

The youth in Nepal require employment opportunities, necessitating collaboration between the government and citizens to create an environment conducive to Nepali and foreign investment. Securing capital for green projects precedes the need for specific job opportunities.

Certain advancements in business have championed green business models. For instance, there are ventures that utilize green technology to manage municipal solid waste sustainably. By partnering with local governments, they produce biogas CNG for public vehicles and biofertilizers as a byproduct.

Understanding our local context is crucial; blindly replicating Western methods may not align with our waste composition. A 2020 survey by Nepal’s Central Bureau of Statistics revealed the country generates 2,233 metric tons of waste annually, with 54 percent being organic. In Kathmandu, organic waste accounts for approximately 70 percent of municipal solid waste. The issue of waste management urgently needs attention in Nepal.

In 2022, Kathmandu attempted to dispose of its waste in Dhunbeshi Municipality in Dhading and Kakani Rural Municipality in Nuwakot, facing resistance from locals.

In this context, ActionAid, for COP28, has laid out five crucial climate justice benchmarks aimed at addressing Loss and Damage and advocating for real action. Teresa Anderson, ActionAid International’s Global Lead on Climate Justice, highlighted the global anticipation for COP28 to urgently address the long-overdue Loss and Damage Fund. Anderson emphasized the moral responsibility of affluent nations to fill the fund, providing critical support to communities deeply affected by climate change-induced disasters.

Moreover, Anderson stressed COP28 as an opportunity to redirect the substantial public and private financing currently channeled into fossil fuels and industrial agriculture, emphasizing the need to rectify these detrimental financial flows perpetuating the climate crisis.

Amid the alarming weather patterns of 2023 that claimed lives worldwide, Anderson expressed heightened expectations for concrete solutions at this year’s climate conference in Dubai. She emphasized the pivotal role of COP28 in combating the climate crisis while highlighting key issues that demand immediate attention for a successful outcome amid the numerous negotiation tracks.

The ActionAid global federation has also recently initiated the global climate justice campaign, with ActionAid Nepal playing an integral role in contextualizing and contributing to this worldwide initiative. As a global federation dedicated to enhancing people's lives, ActionAid focuses on gender equality, education, resilient livelihoods, climate change, and emergency response. The primary objectives revolve around advocating for climate justice and equality, recognizing the accountability of private investors engaged in climate-harming enterprises, and aiding climate-affected communities in adapting to and mitigating climate change through local eco-friendly solutions such as ‘agroecology’ farming.

The climate justice campaign spearheaded by ActionAid revolves around empowering those most affected by climate change, including women, youth, and vulnerable communities. Its mission is to mobilize these groups through strategic organization, mobilization, and effective communication to push for tangible political and social change aimed at achieving climate justice.

Sujeeta Mathema, Executive Director of ActionAid International Nepal, emphasizes that ActionAid focuses on climate justice through financing and mitigation efforts. This involves providing climate financing to women, young people, smallholder farmers, and marginalized communities in climate-vulnerable countries. The approach recognizes the responsibility of prosperous nations, resulting from unchecked carbon emissions, to address global warming. ActionAid advocates for supporting both developing and least developed countries in adapting to climate change impacts. Additionally, it promotes economic development by shifting from extractive practices to regenerative methods.

Central to the Climate Justice Campaign are efforts to combat the adverse impacts of toxic agribusiness and fossil fuel dependency. This campaign seeks to exert global pressure on major investors funding these industries, compelling them to advocate for increased national and international funding to transition from environmentally detrimental economies to regenerative ones. Both private and public funding will be redirected toward greener and sustainable solutions.

ActionAid’s climate justice framework primarily revolves around financing and mitigation options. It emphasizes providing climate financing to women, youth, smallholder farmers, and marginalized communities in climate-vulnerable countries. This financial support enables them to implement adaptation and mitigation measures to combat the effects of climate change. The initiative also highlights the responsibility of nations that have flourished due to unchecked carbon emissions to curb global warming and support both developing and least developed countries in adapting to climate impacts. Furthermore, it advocates for economic development by transitioning from extractive practices to regenerative methods.

The widespread effects of climate change disproportionately impact underprivileged populations despite their minimal contribution to global warming. This deepens existing disparities and underscores the need to amplify their voices on national and international platforms. The campaign aims to hold governments accountable for promoting climate-friendly public and private investments.

ActionAid’s five climate justice benchmarks for a successful COP28

  • Leaders must agree on and put money in the new Loss and Damage Fund so that communities  on the frontlines of the climate crisis can rebuild and recover in the aftermath of climate  disasters. It is sad that women, girls, marginalized communities, and people living in poverty are  particularly and disproportionately affected by climate-induced loss and damage. Without  appropriate international financial support, countries devastated by climate change impacts run  the risk of falling deeper into debt from economic losses and massive recovery costs. That is why  the Loss and Damage Fund must deliver support to such countries. 
  • Fossil fuels are the major cause of the climate crisis the world is now grappling with. Yet a UN  report shows the world’s petrostates are on course to increase production. COP28 must agree  to phase out fossil fuels in a way that is fair, fully financed, and enables just transitions. To  avert a catastrophe, we need to limit temperatures to the agreed 1.5 degree-Celsius mark, by  ending fossil fuel dependence and agreeing on a phasing out.  
  • The world’s finances are flowing in the wrong direction and a shift is necessary to stop doing  harm and build a more sustainable future. ActionAid’s report “How the Finance Flows” (Sept  2023) found that in the seven years since the Paris Agreement was signed, banks in the Global North  have been financing the fossil fuel industry in the Global South to the tune of $3.2trn. Negotiations on Article 2.1c must make real progress in reshaping the financial flows  that continue to fuel the climate crisis. 
  • The Global Stocktake (GST) must result in a frank analysis and a real ramping up of climate  action where it is needed most, putting the biggest polluters in the hot seat. Disappointingly, the world is off-track when it comes to efforts to maintain the 1.5 degrees Celsius global  warming limit or provide the climate finance needed to cope with climate impacts and transition  to greener pathways. 
  • The new work programme on Agriculture and Food Security to be agreed upon at COP28 must  talk about real solutions such as agroecology to make farmers and food systems fit for purpose  in an era of climate change. It is imperative that countries divest from industrial agriculture and  invest in agroecology. Sadly, in the seven years since the Paris Agreement was signed, Global North banks have been financing harmful industrial agriculture in the Global South to the tune of $370bn, according to ActionAid’s research. 

This article is a joint effort of Mahesh Badal-Livelihood & Natural Resources Specialist and Girwani Rana-Trainee of ActionAid International Nepal. 

Find the link to the article at The Annapurna Express. (Click here to find the link)