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May 31st, 2021

EJF combines frontline voices and expert research in climate policy roadmap

topic: Climate action
by: Steve Trent
org: Environmental Justice Foundation

The Environmental Justice Foundation’s Manifesto to Combat Global Heating report and film brings to bear EJF’s long experience of working with people on the frontlines of the climate crisis and combines it with existing scientific research to create a clear roadmap of measures across all sectors - energy, transport, construction, agriculture and clothing - that can be taken by governments today to achieve zero-carbon by 2035.

The manifesto demonstrates the economic and social gains to be made by a transition to a sustainable society, the key importance of nature restoration and protection, and the crucial fact that environmental justice must be a guiding principle, particularly when it comes to climate refugees.

Climate benefits

As stressed in the report, the urgent action needed on climate will not disadvantage those nations that step up a transformation to sustainability, as it would mean new livelihoods, economic revitalisation and jobs.

Renewable energy, for instance, is one of the fastest growing industries in the world: in the US alone, over 100,000 jobs were created in the sector between 2015 and 2019, representing more than a 25 percent growth in the renewable energy workforce. 

Even as economies took a Covid-19 nosedive in 2020, the global renewables sector bucked the trend to grow almost 7 percent despite a temporary decrease in energy demand.

Natural solutions

Nature-based solutions are central, both as low-cost, effective and readily available climate tools and as important solutions to the biodiversity crisis, the report says.

Forests are among the best solutions to global heating, the report further states, and changes to land use, agriculture and forestry practices globally could take us around 37 percent of the way to keeping warming below catastrophic levels. Overlooked habitats, such as the ‘blue carbon’ in ocean and coastal habitats such as seagrasses and mangroves, must be better protected for the key role they play. In fact, more than half of all biological carbon capture is stored by marine life.

Environmental justice

Throughout the report, EJF reiterates the fact that all measures must embody environmental justice and the equal right to a secure and healthy environment for all in a world where ecosystems thrive.

In powerful testimonies in the film, Abdul Ohab talked of the increasing severity of the storms and floods that are devastating many areas in Bangladesh, and shared that his family has suffered the tragic impacts. 

“Within 10 or 20 minutes, water took over our farmlands. The water reached from the ground to the height of my neck. We took shelter on the roof of our house, but some people could not make it back swimming. They died in the storm,” Ohab said. 

Under a 3-degree Celsius warming (our current trajectory), at least 200 million people could be displaced by rising sea levels. A legally binding international agreement to protect climate refugees is crucial to give definition and status to climate refugees, says EJF, to define rights and obligations and to coordinate and combine international actions so that they are truly effective in protecting the most fundamental human right to a safe home.

Executive Director and co-founder of EJF, Steve Trent, says, “It is not too late to act. The financial, technological and logistical capabilities needed for these solutions already exist. What is needed now, above all, is political will and with it, ambitious leadership. The economic rationale is also compelling. All too often action to protect our natural environment is classified as a cost - but in reality, action to combat global heating will be the best return on investment of all time.”

The manifesto’s key recommendations include: putting a high price on carbon, starting at least US$100 per tonne; protecting and restoring at least 30 percent of land and ocean habitats; doubling developed countries' international climate finance commitments to ensure that fair responsibility is taken for historical emissions;  and formulating an international legal framework for the protection of climate refugees.

A globally coordinated effort required

The key recommendations of the manifesto are: 

  1. Increased ambition for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and robust decarbonisation plans across the whole of the economy in order to reach net zero carbon by 2035 and in line with responsibility for historical greenhouse gas emissions. This requires both robust legislative packages from governments such as carbon pricing, investment in renewable energy transitions, and the rapid phase out of fossil fuel subsidies, as well as increased action from the private sector.
  2. Integrating biodiversity protection and restoration within the climate action portfolio, as our ocean, forests, wetlands and wildlife are our ally in the fight against climate breakdown. This includes setting ambitious and legally binding nature restoration targets under the Convention for Biological Diversity, including committing to the 30x30 nature protection plan and designating at least 30 percent of the ocean as ecologically representative fully or highly protected marine protected areas by 2030, with ambition towards designating 50 percent of the Earth's surface for nature conservation.
  3. Creating a just global system of support for communities already suffering from the impacts of global heating, including an international legal framework for the protection of climate refugees. 
  4. Developed countries must significantly increase their international climate finance commitments, and G7 countries specifically must at least double their public climate finance contributions, with a balance between mitigation and adaptation funding, as well as a dedicated funding stream on Loss & Damage and support for transfer for renewable energy technologies.

Steve Trent is Executive Director of the Environmental Justice Foundation.

Image: EJF

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