COP (Conference of the Parties) is a really important meeting where countries get together to make sure we save our planet from climate change. And this is kinda the most important thing right now given that we don’t have a planet B.
COP26 is especially important this year because we are now armed with the scary facts given to us by the latest IPCC report - if we are going to make any impact, we need to urgently reduce our emissions this decade. To make this happen, all countries have to work as a global team to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a big way.
And because of the major fact that we don’t have a planet B, we really need this to work out as the stakes are high for all of us. But in Australia, sometimes we forget that climate change is actually already affecting a lot of people, and climate change hits certain groups first.
For a start, Australia’s First Nations people are among the most affected by climate change, due to their dependence upon and close relationship with the environment and its resources.
Climate change also disproportionately impacts people living in poverty and people who are already vulnerable. That’s why the Paris Agreement specifically addresses this issue of “climate justice” — because the people who are least responsible for causing climate change are the ones who will suffer from the impacts of climate change the most.
Why Is Climate Justice Important?
First Nations people in Australia have cared for this country for millennia, yet are disproportionately affected by climate change. First Nations people have been leading the fight for climate justice in Australia, but we still haven’t adopted First Nations leadership and solutions in Australia’s response to climate change. And this isn’t the only issue - climate change only makes worse long standing challenges and injustices faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples especially when it comes to traditional land and water management.
Climate injustice also comes down to this fact: If you have money and resources, you are better able to adapt to changing weather patterns, extreme temperatures, drought, floods, and new migration patterns that are caused by climate change. People with fewer resources can’t. There's a social cost to climate change that's inordinately paid by people who can't afford it — and too often, they're paying with their livelihoods, or paying with their lives.
The people who are being affected by wildfires, floods, drought, and pollution are by and large not the ones responsible for causing climate change. Many can’t afford to pack up and move when a climate-fuelled extreme whether disaster hits, or have nowhere to go. That means even if they’re lucky enough to escape with their lives, these climate refugees may lose their livelihoods and their homes. And many just can’t afford it.
Climate justice is about justice for humans — and the last time we checked, it was 100% humans reading this blog. In order to make a just transition to a clean-energy economy that is fair for everyone, Australia must step up the ambition of our commitments and set specific, actionable goals to rapidly reduce their emissions by at least 50% by 2030. And that’s where COP26 comes in.
What can we do?
What we want to see is Australia leading the global renewable energy revolution to build a resilient and climate secure world. But especially, we want to see Australia build a fairer and stronger Australia, and that means taking climate justice seriously.
As a first step, we need to at least match the commitments of our global friends, and pledge to at least halve our emissions this decade. Join us to call on our leaders to listen to the science and set targets at COP26 to see our emissions plummet this decade. Take action and sign the Climate Council petition here!