Climate Justice Testimony

This is my Climate Justice Testimony from the Climate Justice demonstration in Brussels, November 28th, 2010, prior to the United Nations Climate Change Conference Cancun – COP 16.

The European Commission ran a public consultation on the Roadmap for a low carbon economy by 2050, in October-December 2010. One of the questions in the consultation is written out below;

Rich and poor countries have to act together to avoid dangerous climate change. Developing countries want us to help them with two things: cutting their greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change (e.g. building better flood defences and switching to more drought-resistant crops). What do you think the priorities should be for helping developing countries with these challenges? If we support them, what should the terms be?”

My personal response to this question emphasized that the issue of climate justice means the EU’s “terms’ for assistance ought not be about our interests, and that climate justice cannot be separated from any vision of sustainable energy security, be it Europe’s or the wider world’s…

The economic wealth of the EU is historically based in a history of colonialism, appropriation of natural resources and economically exploitative relations including slavery. This history enabled Western Europe to industrialize and greatly invest in its infrastructure, a process which has left us with continuing economic benefits, as well as kick-starting anthropogenic climate change, with massive historical and ongoing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

We therefore have a responsibility to support developing countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change, a problem which they historically did little to create but will be most hard hit by. It is because of the problem of climate change that they will not have the luxury to develop in the same way we did i.e. via fossil-fuel fed industrialization, at least not without dangerously exacerbating climate change, to the detriment of all the citizens of the world.

It is therefore imperative that we help developing countries to develop in a clean and sustainable way, but also reduce our own GHG emissions (much of which are for luxury use) much more steeply, to enable them to emit GHGs which contribute to meeting basic needs.

This requires free renewable and sustainable technology transfer, huge financial investment for mitigation and adaptation, and should be unconditional, not tied to free-market oriented policies, but only to ensure the resources are well targeted and are not lost to corruption. We must support developing countries, for our and their sake, but not with terms that are steeped in self-interest or what the EU can gain from them, for the sake of the climate debt we owe, and because our only chance of successfully tackling climate change is by pursuing climate justice.


About Rachel Tansey

Rachel was a QCEA Programme Assistant on Sustainable Energy Security between November 2010 and November 2011.

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