Climate Action and concepts necessary for its understanding
New NASA images show the dramatic shrinkage of the United States' largest reservoir, partly caused by climate change induced heatwaves and drought.
When we talk about climate action, several images come to mind: intergenerational climate protests demanding ecological justice, multilateral and international efforts to reach agreements through the exercise of diplomacy to assure the future of life on Earth, or perhaps cyber-activism on social media and other platforms.
What is certain is that each of these pictographic references illustrates climate action as any type of measure, action, policy or material-discursive practice aimed at contributing to efforts to curb the effects of the climate crisis. As such, there are definitions of the concept that are mostly derived from the Sustainable Development Goal N°13 called "Climate Action", which stipulates taking urgent action to combat climate change and its effects (UN, 2022).
It is necessary to highlight a very important fact in order to understand the rise of climate action: the 1% of the population with the greatest accumulation of wealth in the world emits twice as much greenhouse gas emissions as the poorest 50% of the world's population, i.e., some 3.1 billion people.
We believe that the task of environmental activists is not to overprotect nature, scare or stigmatize the impact of human beings on the environment, but to disseminate concerns about the ecological crisis and promote debate on sustainability to raise awareness and motivate action and participation in the face of this global problem.
It is necessary to point out that fragmented and uncoordinated action in the fight against climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution is causing us to fall short of what is needed to prevent environmental decline. Yet the threat of climate change generates a surprisingly paradoxical and almost incomprehensible cognitive pattern. Many of us are aware of the irreversibility of climate change, but some are unable to translate this into environmentally responsible behavior.
We must make an analysis of the situation and be aware that environmental weakness has made us more vulnerable and accept that we must make changes in lifestyles to mitigate this problem, only this will enable and assist in the necessary change in the model of production and consumption and achieve a system that bets on sustainability and a resilient society and more connected with nature.
Climate action is decisive because it indicates that we can mobilize for a common good that will affect future generations. We act at latent risks that go beyond the immediate interest, we stop considering the future as the dumping ground of the present, therefore, the collective power of people to shape the future is greater now than ever, and the need to exercise it is more compelling. Mobilizing that power to make life in the 21st century more democratic, safer, and sustainable is the main challenge of this generation.
One of the serious mistakes is the posturing that is being carried out in terms of sustainability and Agenda 2030, what in Anglo-Saxon terms is called green washing, which defines those actions in sustainability that are more linked to marketing elements than implementing concrete measures in sustainability, both in the public and private spheres, and this generates very bad practices that harm the values of sustainability.
These actions greatly undermine the values and principles of the Sustainable Development Goals, something that seriously harms the future of people and the planet, since green washing is economically disadvantageous and ethically reprehensible, the lack of honesty and transparency damages the reputation of companies, which have a fundamental role in the care of the environment and the future of the planet, leaving behind the concept of social responsibility in the field of business.
Precisely this "greenwashing" gives room for misrepresentations regarding the climate crisis, since it is designed from large think tanks to project contradictory information about the responsibility of these large companies and / or economic interest groups.
The greenwashing is not only summarized to this type of actions.
A practice of issuing green bonds, based on ethical and transparent criteria, demonstrating a change in the values of banking, in the face of the economic crisis of 2008, with a new governance model and with more information and control over the different products.
Each one of us has the possibility of measuring the impact we have on the environment, and it is through the carbon footprint, which represents the total volume of greenhouse gases produced by the economic and daily activities of human beings. Personal carbon footprint is originated by an individual in his daily life when moving, consuming, eating, and using resources such as energy. Companies produce carbon footprint in manufacturing processes, transportation, electricity consumption, among others.
The carbon footprint is also presented in products. Consumption assets and services emit greenhouse gases before, during and at the end of their useful life.
Measuring your carbon footprint is the first step to become environmentally conscious, it is time to reduce the consumption of resources and energy, to lower your carbon footprint.
Justice itself is controversial, complex, and multidimensional, as different conceptions of justice emerge in the context of climate action. They basically focus on all those areas where there is the capacity to bring about changes to contribute to the salvation of the human species and life on earth: climate, ecological or environmental, reparative, intergenerational, international, etc. justice.
Climate justice is understood as all those actions of vulnerable groups, peoples and communities, governmental and non-governmental organizations, youth, social sectors, among others. The concept recognizes that the North-South binarism, accumulation by dispossession and the configuration of the modern world-system are determining factors in the exponential growth of the crisis, which predominantly benefits the richest countries, while disproportionately harming the poorest people and developing countries around the world.
However, if we were to talk about ecological justice, we would be entering even more complex terrain, since there is no single conceptualization of the term.
On the one hand, it is said that environmental justice is an appendix of anthropocentric law, being that environmental issues are taken under the framework of administrative law in some cases, and its quest is that of the human right to a healthy and "justly" distributed environment.
On the other hand, it is known that ecological justice encompasses the defense of nature as a subject of law and looks after its interests beyond legal anthropocentrism, that is, it speaks of nature as a subject of law, a position that allows it to enter within the legal umbrella represented by the constitution.
On this same debate, the Stop Ecocide group, together with a panel of lawyers, social and political forces, has been recognized worldwide for persuading the International Criminal Court (ICC) to categorize ecocide as the 5th crime under the Rome Statute.
In an intertwined manner, climate, ecological and environmental justice are produced thanks to a primordial element of climate action: environmental education, which seeks to generate processes for the construction of knowledge, values, and environmental practices in formal, non-formal and informal educational spaces, with the objective of promoting ecological awareness and care for the environment.
We are seeing one of the greatest demands of the collective action of humanity, a demand for life, for the planet, a demand for the best possible future, where it must be made very clear that there can be no social justice without gender justice, cognitive justice, and ecological justice.