Hunger, nutrition and a shocking lack of justice: Thoughts on the Hunger-Nutrition-Climate Justice conference

This blog piece presents some intital thoughts on the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice sponsored confernce on Hunger, Nutrition and Climate Justice taking place in Dublin next week, 15-16 April 2013.

The conference is taking place during the Irish Presidency of the EU, as the EU continues to block progress on actions to halt climate change and Ireland publishes a Climate Action Bill with no sign of climate justice. This piece highlights some of the key climate justice failings of the conference.

Human rights based approaches must move beyond supporting communities to deal with the crisis

  • The human rights based approaches advocated by the conference are a positive step forward in a debate that has been held for too long in privileged policy circles.
  • However, when the conference fails to address the core issues of emissions reductions, market mechanisms or technology transfer, the ‘empowerment of marginalised people’ means supporting people to deal with the effects of climate change rather than challenge the root causes of unsustainability.
  • With this in mind, the inclusion of ‘100 developing country delegates […] bring their community’s experiences to share’ at the conference seems to little more than a PR exercise at consultation (but I am open to being pleasantly surprised).

Climate Justice means binding emissions reductions targets

  • States must make commitments in line with what science requires and that reflect historical responsibility, per-capita contributions, and capabilities to act. We must drop emissions by at least 40% by 2020 & 90% by 2050 (below 1990 levels).
  • States have ‘common but differentiated responsibility’: All states are required to take action to reduce emissions but the developed countries of the Global North, who have benefited most from polluting, have the responsibility to act first and take the deepest emissions cuts.
  • This conference makes no reference to the failing institutional architecture at an intergovernmental level which has seen ongoing inaction at the conference of parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Climate Justice means ending reliance on dangerous market mechanisms to regulate carbon emissions

  • This conference does not seek to address the dangerous policies at international level such as carbon trading (trading in the right to pollute) and trading pollution for forests with schemes like REDD and REDD+. These policies can best be described as seeking to profit from the climate crisis by creating markets for carbon.
  • Rather than critiquing these mechanisms, the conference papers (p. 42) suggest the issue is simply ‘helping communities understand the dynamics and technical aspects of carbon markets as a financing source’.

 Climate Justice means technology transfer

  • Despite this conference’s emphasis on building local resilience to climate change in the Global South it fails to address the key resilience issue of technology transfer. Developed countries of the North are hindering resilience by failing to provide for the transfer of knowledge, skills and technology to those communities facing climate change.

Why is technology transfer so vital?

‘For developing countries, the need for the transfer of climate friendly technologies has, for a long time, been seen as one of the major aspects of the progress of sustainable development. However, most climate friendly technologies are developed in industrialised countries, although potential for these technologies to make significant reductions in carbon emissions is located in developing countries, where fossil fuel consumption is increasing rapidly. In sum, migration of global energy systems to lower carbon pathways depends upon their successful transfer and absorption of low-carbon technologies to and within developing countries’

Source: Shashikant, S. and Khor, M., Intellectual property rights and technology transfer in the context of climate change, p. 9.

 Climate Justice begins at home

  • This conference imagines Ireland as a world leader on climate justice. The reality is very different. Ireland is the 6th largest per capita polluter on the planet. Our government has consistently failed to legislate for action on climate change. The current proposed Climate ‘Action’ Bill fails to set the legally binding and ambitious carbon reduction targets needed, fails to institute an independent commission or any form of accountability for polluters. In short, it lacks any hint of climate justice.
  • Climate justice, human rights and community sector campaigners from Ireland have almost entirely been refused entry to the conference.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s