Climate justice - in depth

The climate crisis

The scale of the climate challenge facing humanity cannot be underestimated. Large areas of our world are already experiencing man-made climate change. It can be seen in the form of rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and increasingly severe floods and droughts. The results include changes to agricultural patterns, threats to livelihoods, and conflicts over land, water and other resources.

In Europe the impacts of carbon addiction can already be observed in the form of heat waves, disappearing biodiversity and the need for new flood defences to protect low lying countries. They are contributing to increasing social inequality within and between countries.

Responsibility for the problem

Rich industrialised countries are responsible for the climate crisis - historically, legally and morally. Friends of the Earth Europe believes those most responsible for climate change have the obligation to act first and fastest to combat it.

Industrialised countries, including Europe, must be the ones to reduce their consumption and control of the world's resources. Developed countries must make deep emission cuts at home while also providing adequate finances and technology transfers to help developing countries reduce their own emissions. And they must not do this through false solutions which continue to privilege the minority of the world's population.

European multinational corporations carry a particular responsibility for causing climate change, and in terms of Europe's impact elsewhere in the world.

What is climate justice?

Around the world, the effects of climate change are felt most acutely by those people who are least responsible for causing the problem. Communities in the global South - as well as low-income communities in the industrialised north - are bearing the burden of rich countries' overconsumption of our planet's resources.

These are the people who have least access to resources and technology to adapt to the consequences and to act to reduce their emissions.

Climate justice means addressing the climate crisis whilst also making progress towards equity and the protection and realisation of human rights.

The countries of Europe must live up to their historical, moral and legal responsibility by cutting greenhouse gas emissions across Europe by at least 40% by 2020 (based on 1990 levels) without offsetting. They must also provide adequate and appropriate finances and transfer of clean technology for developing countries to repay their 'climate debt'.

This is the minimum level science and historical responsibility tell us is necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Opposing false solutions

Governments, financial institutions and multinational corporations are promoting false solutions to the climate crisis.
Reliance on offsetting and on carbon markets, will not achieve climate justice. Nor will taxation policies that increase social injustice, investments in 'clean coal' technology, the resurgence of nuclear power, targets for agrofuel use, trade liberalisation, privatisation, or forest carbon markets.

These are false solutions which must be opposed at the local, national and international level. Subsidies for false technological solutions should be ended immediately.

The struggle for climate justice

Real solutions to climate change are available. These include reducing consumption, improving energy efficiency, choosing sustainable locally-produced food, and switching to clean, green power.

Friends of the Earth Europe is taking action to change the current unjust and unsustainable economic system and stop the further decline of the world's climate and the possibility of catastrophic climate change.

We are working to build and strengthen a movement for climate justice. We work in solidarity with communities affected by climate change. We mobilise citizens and challenge policy-makers, institutions and corporations to achieve climate justice.

Through our work we promote genuine solutions to the climate crisis. These include:

  • leaving fossil fuels in the ground
  • investing in energy efficiency and energy savings and community-led renewable energy
  • radically reducing wasteful consumption, first and foremost in the North, but also by Southern elites
  • huge financial transfers from North to South, based on the repayment of climate debts and subject to democratic control. The costs of adaptation and mitigation should be paid for by redirecting military budgets, innovative taxes and debt cancellation
  • national legislation to set socially just and legally binding targets for the annual reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
  • tackling social and economic inequality within Europe and within European countries in a way that ensures the right to access sufficient safe, clean and community-led renewable energy.
  • legislation in the form of a new international binding instrument, as well as EU and national regulation to protect environmentally displaced persons by ensuring their rights as part of their fundamental right to life. This must be part of a wider acknowledgement of overconsumption in the Global North and historical debt.