By: Erika López Lara
Learning about climate change can be overwhelming. When I first began to unravel the intricacies of climate change, I couldn't help but wonder why all of us weren't urgently working on a solution. After some time, I realized that it is not that simple.
I am originally from Mexico, where according to CONEVAL, in 2020 43% of the population was living in poverty and 8% in extreme poverty. Unfortunately, these numbers are not an isolated case, worldwide, 10% of the population lives in extreme poverty. How can you care about climate change if you and your family do not have enough to eat or a place to live? You must set your priorities. When we consider the projections regarding world’s situation with the raise in the surface temperature, the long-term situation will be worst. As natural disasters such as hurricanes continue to increase, how will people with limited resources leave the cities to safety? How will they eat if they are living hand to mouth?
Unfortunately, the Sixth Assessment Report of the IPCC states that developing countries are expected to suffer the most negative impacts of climate change due to their limited capacity to anticipate and respond to the climate crisis. Climate change will exacerbate the vulnerabilities of these countries and their population living in poverty affecting access to water, the health of people, food production, livable land, etc.
However, it is not only low-income individuals who will be the most affected but also the minorities. For example, in the US, Black, Latino, Native Hawaiian and Asians communities are more likely to live in areas where the impacts of climate change are the most severe. This is reflected in high mortality rates due to extreme temperatures, labor hour losses in weather-exposed industries, floodings, etc. This makes climate change not only an environmental problem but a social and racial concern. Climate justiceis the term used to define climate change as an ethical, political, and social problem and emphasizes that solutions must be holistic. Moreover, it acknowledges that those most affected people are the least responsible for the climate crisis. It makes an urgent call for a genuinely sustainable future where society, economy and the environment are treated as equal.
As an urgent response for this unethical global warming, in 2015, the United Nations proposed the sustainable development goals for 2030 which can be seen as an international step towards climate justice. Unfortunately, a preliminary assessment in 2023 indicates that only 12% of the 140 targets are on track and 30% are not or have even regressed below the 2015 baseline. This urges the governments, industries, and society to keep working on making them a reality. Another international effort is The Green Climate Fund, which is a fund to support developing countries in reducing their emissions and helping their population adapt to climate change. Between 2020-2023, developed countries contributed to this fund with more than 9 billion dollars which are expected to avoid the release of 2.4 billion tons of CO2 and help 666 millions of people to adapt .
Fortunately, it is not only have the governments taking action on climate justice but also many grassroots organizations such as Indigenous Climate Action. This NGO focuses on defending the rights of indigenous peoples and preserving their knowledge to develop climate solutions. WE ACT is another example of the efforts being made. This organization works on informing and engaging people of color and/or low-income residents to participate in the creation of fair environmental health and protection policies. These examples demonstrate that there are people fighting for a fair world, a crucial element to get holistic solutions for climate change.
However, we must remember that being able to join an activist organization and being informed is a privilege that not all the population has. Therefore, individuals who have the privilege of caring about climate change should act and amplify the voices of the underrepresented groups. It is urgent for everyone to engage in a global partnership because climate change knows no borders, and we are all in this together. COP28 promises to be inclusive and “for all” so let’s hope that during negotiations this inclusivity is prioritized and stronger commitments are made.
http://www.coneval.org.mx/Informes/Pobreza/Rezago_Social/Rezago_Social_2010/Rez_soc_A GEB/Base de datos.zip