Climate justice - in depth

Friends of the Earth Europe is campaigning for climate justice, and for Europe to do our fair share to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees – by going fossil-free by 2030.

The climate crisis

The scale of the climate challenge facing humanity cannot be underestimated. The world over, communities are already feeling the impacts of man-made climate change. Particularly in countries in The South. But increasingly, here in Europe too.

It can be seen in the form of rising sea levels, ocean acidification, melting glaciers, and increasingly severe and regular heatwaves, floods, hurricanes and droughts. In 50 years, the number of extreme weather events has quadrupled. The impacts of climate change are happening faster and are already hitting communities harder than anticipated.

The results include changes to agricultural patterns, threats to livelihoods, and conflicts over land, water and other resources.

In Europe the impacts of our addiction to fossil fuels can already be observed in the frequency of extreme weather, the strength and regularity of heat waves, disappearing biodiversity, and the need for new flood defences to protect low lying countries.

Climate change is a planetary emergency, and it is contributing to increasing social inequality within and between countries.

International climate change protests in Bonn, Germany

Responsibility for the problem

Rich industrialised countries are responsible for the climate crisis - historically, legally and morally. Greenhouse gases emitted in the past continue to warm the atmosphere and will do so for up to thousands of years.

Friends of the Earth Europe believes those most responsible for climate change have the obligation to do their fair share – by acting first and fastest to combat it. European countries must fully recognise their historical role in causing climate change.

Industrialised countries, including Europe, must initiate the transformation to a fossil-free world, and to reduce their consumption and control of the world's resources. They must make deep emission cuts at home while also providing adequate finances and technology transfers to help countries in the Global South to reduce their own emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. And they must not do this through false solutions which continue to privilege the rich minority of the world's population.

European multinational corporations carry a particular responsibility for causing climate change, and in terms of Europe's impact elsewhere in the world.

What & who is causing carbon pollution?

What is climate justice?

Around the world, the effects of climate change are felt most acutely by people who are least responsible for causing the problem. Communities in the global South - as well as low-income communities in the industrialised north - are bearing the burden of rich countries' overconsumption of our planet's resources.

These are the people who have least access to resources and technology to adapt to the consequences and to act to reduce their emissions.

Climate justice means addressing the climate crisis whilst also making progress towards equity and the protection and realisation of human rights.

The countries of Europe must live up to their historical, moral and legal responsibilities by going fossil free by 2030. They must also provide adequate and appropriate finances and transfer of clean technology for developing countries to repay their 'climate debt'.

This is the minimum level science and historical responsibility tell us is necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Climate Justice also demands that the transformation in Europe should not leave anyone behind. In particular we demand a Just Transition, one that protects the livelihood of workers and ensures clean, safe and organized jobs in the new energy system.

25,000 people marched through Bonn to demand climate justice at the start of the UN talks

Opposing false solutions

Governments, financial institutions and multinational corporations are promoting false solutions to the climate crisis.

Reliance on offsetting and on carbon markets, will not achieve climate justice. Nor will taxation policies that increase social injustice, investments in 'clean coal' technology, the resurgence of nuclear power, targets for agrofuel use, trade liberalisation, privatisation, or forest carbon markets.

These are false solutions which must be opposed at the local, national and international level. Subsidies for false technological solutions should be ended immediately.

The struggle for climate justice and a fossil-free Europe

The phase-out of fossil fuels must happen without false solutions like nuclear power, biofuels, geo-engineering, emission trading schemes or large-scale biomass, and without new trade deals that restrict how we manage our own energy use. Real solutions to climate change are available.

Solutions such as active community and citizen engagement in owning and producing renewable energy – "community energy"– need to play an increasingly central role in the energy mix.

The full potential for smarter energy use needs to be realised, both in our homes and in industry. We need to ensure that the legal and financial barriers that stop this happening are removed. And citizens need to be engaged in shaping the way forward through democratic processes.

Friends of the Earth Europe is taking action to change the current unjust and unsustainable economic system and bring about a safe and clean Europe. We are fighting fossil fuel developments in individual countries from national to local level, and putting people at the centre of the energy transformation. We have the renewable and safe energy solutions we need to deliver a just transition to a 100% renewable, no nuclear, super energy-efficient, zero-fossil-fuel Europe.

We work in solidarity with communities affected by climate change. We mobilise citizens who are building the solutions and challenge policy-makers, institutions and corporations to achieve climate justice.

The need for rapidly escalated action is urgent. But if we secure a just and quick transformation we can avoid the worst effects of climate change and a brighter future for us all.

Narrative video cover

As part of the Fossil Free Europe campaign, Friends of the Earth is campaigning to: