Climate justice (own-initiative opinion)

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EESC opinion: Climate justice (own-initiative opinion)


This opinion looks at the issues of just transition and climate justice from the perspective of civil society in Europe. It will build on the work done in former opinions but also map new territory in terms of defining what we mean by the concepts of climate justice and just transition in a practical way. Climate justice approaches climate change from the perspective of justice, human rights and the responsibility for climate change by safeguarding the rights of the most vulnerable people and sharing the burdens and benefits of climate change and its impacts equitably and fairly.

The opinion aims to strengthen the role of climate justice, not only in the global dimension but also in domestic climate policies. The hearing will explore the added value of applying climate justice in various domestic policy areas in the EU, such as employment policies, agriculture and food, energy and consumer protection. Last but not least, the opinion will also consider the dimension of "intergenerational justice".

Key points:

  • Climate Justice is typically viewed in a global context of spatial and temporal interdependence and recognises that the most vulnerable and poorest in society often suffer the greatest impact of the effects of climate change, despite these people being the least responsible for the emissions that have driven the climate crisis. Climate Justice recognises the need to consider the fairness of the often disproportionate impact of climate change on citizens and communities.
  • The EESC believes that citizens have a right to a healthy, clean environment, and to expect governments to take action on the drivers and threats of climate change.
  • The EESC calls for a drafting of an EU Bill of Climate Rights to encapsulate the rights of EU citizens and nature in the context of the challenges of climate change and encourages EU institutions and National Governments to examine the application of the principles of Climate Justice at all levels. The EESC recalls two recent initiatives: the Global Pact for the Environment and project of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Humankind that support this opinion.
  • Production and consumption systems must change to adapt to and to mitigate climate change. Sustainable food consumption must start at the upstream stage of soil preparation and management of natural systems in order to provide the primary building blocks for food, thus the EESC highlights the need for a Soil Framework Directive.
  • Consumers need sustainable ethical alternatives that will not reduce the convenience or quality of services or their accessibility. New economic models such as the Digital, Collaborative, and Circular Economy offer alternatives, but public investments are also required to ensure that infrastructure and appropriate supports exist to enable consumers to choose a low carbon lifestyle, including assistance for meeting the higher costs of ethical and sustainable goods and services.
  • Mapping the displacement of jobs in a low carbon economy is also required, with opportunities identified to allow effective policies to be designed and implemented, ensuring worker protection.
  • The EESC repeats its call for a European Energy Poverty Observatory to bring together concerned stakeholders and define European energy poverty indicators, and to ensure that clean, affordable and accessible energy is available to everyone.
  • The EESC calls for an end to fossil fuel subsidies and a shift to renewables in order to support the transition.