To keep climate change in mind is essential for protecting human rights around the world since dealing with climate change especially includes questions of global justice, governance and alternative models of development. The next years will show how governments will address those new challenges.
Designing Climate Policy in Line with Social Equity
Climate change is making us aware of the limits of our planet – and at the same time confronting us with the fact that the consequences of our actions know no borders. It is incumbent on us to redesign, together, the forms of human coexistence.
At the World Summit on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 154 states signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), thereby setting themselves the goal of stabilising »greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system« (UNFCCC, Art. 2). Twenty years later the now 194 treaty states have managed to agree on a maximum of 2°C as the ceiling for average global warming, as well as wishing to negotiate an agreement by 2015 containing binding emissions targets for all treaty states. But the hesitant progress made so far within the framework of the UN’s annual climate negotiations stands in direct contrast to what is needed to address climate change properly: rapid, decisive and ambitious action.
The difficulties encountered in the course of the international climate protection negotiations are due not least to the fact that they cannot be detached from the problem of the current world order being perceived as profoundly unfair. The fact that those countries above all that have contributed least to triggering climate change are now suffering the most from its effects is no accident, but rather expresses a historical structural injustice which climate policy must take into account. The historical experience of colonialism and the reluctance of the industrialised countries to acknowledge their environmental and climate policy responsibilities not only in words but also in deeds have created a climate of mistrust which overshadows the negotiations and repeatedly results in deadlock. All the more so because climate change confronts us ruthlessly with our mutual dependency with regard to the environment.
The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung is working on a socially compatible and development-oriented climate and energy policy based on a viable international regime. To that end we are supporting a differentiated approach to the key issue of climate justice in order to achieve progress with regard to a political practice based on common, but differentiated responsibilities through intensive exchange at regional and global level. Justice, here, not only must be the benchmark for the assignment of rights and obligations in the areas of mitigation and adaptation, but must also, from the outset, be the principle against which the necessary building of sustainable economic and societal structures has to be measured.