Over 200 civil society groups from more than 50 countries around the world, including WIDE+, have endorsed the “International Civil Society Call to Address Inequalities and Social Justice in Climate Policy.” The Call focuses attention on the relationships between climate change and socioeconomic inequalities.
Climate change affects people in very unequal ways, thus compounding inequalities. Poor and marginalized people suffer the consequences of environmental degradation more directly and severely. Women and girls are particularly impacted. Women and girls are more likely to care for children, the sick and the elderly, to prepare food, to fetch water, to work the soil. All of these activities become more difficult as the climate degenerates. Furthermore, when climate impacts destroy economic opportunities at home, women and girls are less able to travel safely to seek new opportunities.
Despite suffering more severe impacts from climate change, poor and marginalized people generate significantly less impact on the environment as measured by standardized metrics such as consumption or carbon output. This is true for both poorer nations and for poorer socioeconomic classes within countries. It is unethical that those who do less harm should suffer more.
People who lack the necessary economic resources, knowledge, and political clout are disempowered and unable to demand necessary changes. Often, despite enormous and sophisticated grassroots or civil society efforts, the power differentials between those who stand to benefit from environmentally damaging economic activity, and those who are affected by it, are simply too great to overcome.
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