Environmental Justice

pedro sanson
November 21, 2016

Humans are on the track of facing mass extinction due to the non-stop release of greenhouse gases fueling climate change. The consequences of this release will destroy the human population, but no government or entity owns up to the responsibility and takes significant action to fight this problem. Most environmentalists seem to blame humankind as a whole for the degradation of our planet, but different layers of society affect this threat in different ways. For example, industrialized developed nations have emitted far more greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide, compared to less developed, agriculture reliant countries.                

For a number of years, there have been concerns that climate change negotiations will essentially ignore the common but differentiated responsibilities, a key principle of a negotiation framework. It is hard to realize that greenhouse emissions remain in the atmosphere for a long amount of time and because of that industrialized nations have emitted more greenhouse gases than less developed countries. Therefore, developed countries should admit their liability and understand the stakes of their actions, rather than waiting for someone else to change the world.

This notion of climate justice is typically ignored by many rich nations and their mainstream media, making it easy to blame China, India and other developing countries for failures in climate change mitigation negotiations. The heavy increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere started in the United Kingdom and other European countries to the Industrial Revolution and the use of carbon for energy.

Experts of development have calculated that if they take historical emissions into account, the rich countries owe a carbon debt because they have already used more than their “fair quota” of emissions. Yet, by 2050 when certain emission reductions are needed by, their reduced emissions will still add up to go over their fair share.

Considering the fact that richer countries have contributed more to climate change, they should support developing nations adapt through financing technology transfer and reducing emissions. Rather than continuing down the path of unequal development, industrialized nations can help pay off their carbon debt by truly helping emerging countries develop along a cleaner path, such as through the promised-but-barely-delivered technology transfer, finance, and capacity building. Developing nations still lack appropriate sanitation treatment, proper waste distribution and other systems that could be subsidized by developed countries.

It is our role citizens to step up for what we believe is right and helps prevent the extinction of our race. After all, we are in the fight against climate change together and no one will be exempt from the consequences. One of the first steps toward building a sustainable and eco-friendly place for us to live is understanding what the problem is and who is and has caused the issues. Without taking these steps toward a cleaner future, the human population will most likely fall into an abyss with no turn back.