Climate justice will herald change

9th September 2014

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The emerging concept of climate justice could produce a radical change in policy approaches to climate change, according to attendees at a recent "dialogue" event in Glasgow.

But the delegates also recognised the concept has yet to gain real traction with key stakeholders, such as politicians and businesses.

The second of three planned dialogues – hosted by Glasgow Caledonian University and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) – considered the science behind climate justice and asked whether it is more than just a campaign slogan.

The concept, which brings together the physical science of climate change, the economics of development, the legal and ethical foundations of human rights and social justice, and the effects of social policy, is still relatively new to academic and policy circles.

Its origins lie with non-governmental organisations and campaigners, who have highlighted the disproportionately damaging effects of climate change on the poor.

The event included discussion of a recent review of climate change and social justice by the Centre for Sustainable Energy and the universities of Oxford and Manchester.

It found climate change adaptation plans seldom address issues of social justice and little evidence of environmental risks being linked with assessments of social vulnerability in the UK.

On the question of what might encourage more environmentally “just” responses, the delegates in Glasgow felt little would change until politicians were faced with catastrophic circumstances.

The issue of “climate refugees” was another area of debate, with many recognising that governments had responsibilities towards people displaced by climate change.

The final dialogue, to establish an evidence base to influence the UN climate summit in 2015, will be held on 9 October.


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