Can Climate Justice drive Climate Ambition?

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Climate Change is one of the greatest challenges of humankind. The UN estimates that the world would need to increase its efforts between three- and five-fold to contain climate change to the levels dictated by science – a 1.5°C rise at most – and avoid escalating climate damage already taking place around the world. At a recent UN Climate Action Summit in New York, governments, businesses, and civil society organisations presented new pathways and practical action proposals meant to boost the climate ambition and accelerate action. This was underscored by a massive mobilisation of youth and civil society engaged in a global climate strike and demanding a seat at the table when their future is being decided.

Without a far-reaching and urgent policy change, the climate crisis will result in multiple injustices and further exacerbate inequalities worldwide:

  • for the world’s poorest countries, which are already hit hardest and which will suffer the most from further climate change;
  • for the poorest and most vulnerable people, households, communities within countries; and
  • for young people and future generations who will have to solve climate problems caused by previous and current generations.

Many proposals stemming directly from the New York Summit, as well as initiatives from the meeting's sidelines aimed at raising awareness, point to climate justice as a pathway towards a just, resilient and climate-neutral future.

The incoming European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen intends to make the European Green Deal Europe's new hallmark. She stated that in order to become world’s first climate-neutral continent, Europe will require collective ambition, political leadership and a just transition for the most affected.

  • What do all these developments mean in practice?
  • What will the various initiatives deliver concretely in the next months?
  • How will the youth be involved in the decision-making process to ensure inclusive climate governance?
  • Can a rights-based approach to climate action as well as embracing nature-based solutions for adaptation and mitigation shift the focus of climate action?
  • How can we ensure that no one is left behind in the transition?  

The EESC Sustainable Development Observatory hosted a public debate aimed at providing answers to the above questions.