Posted by: Gareth Dinnage | May 07, 2014
A call to action by Steve Trent, Executive Director, Environmental Justice Foundation
Climate change is quite possibly the most important environmental issue of our time. We can see the effects of climate change in the news almost every day, from the ‘polar vortex’ in North America last winter that led to prolonged freezing temperatures and heavy snow, to the devastating Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and, closer to home, the recent widespread flooding in the UK. There is very strong evidence that such events are becoming more frequent and more extreme than ever before <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-26084625>. Climate change is having an impact on our lives right now and it is going to get worse, bringing new threats, some of which are still poorly understood and to which we have not yet developed any effective response. Now is the time for urgent action.
Our new Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) report, The Gathering Storm: Climate Change, Security and Conflict,explores the link between climate change and conflict. It explains how climate change can act as a ‘threat multiplier’ by aggravating poverty, environmental degradation, political instability and social tensions, which can then potentially tip over into conflict.
The link between climate and conflict can be seen in relation to natural resources. For example, accessibility to increasingly scarce water resources already causes tension between certain countries in Central Asia <http://www.economist.com/node/21563764>. This is just one example – over the past 60 years, at least 40% of all intrastate conflicts have been linked to natural resources. Climate change is contributing to the growing scarcity of renewable and non-renewable resources and freshwater supplies, and this scarcity will only increase if we don’t live our lives in a more sustainable way. Water is a finite and incredibly valuable resource and with its scarcity comes a heightened risk of conflict. This link has been recognised by former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who has stated “Water scarcity could have profound implications for security.”
The threat posed by climate change is slowly being recognised by world leaders and key international bodies. G8 leaders have acknowledged climate change as a contributing factor to increased economic and security risks globally, while the UK government has described climate change as a challenge to global stability and security, and therefore to national security.
Rather than being disheartened by these warnings, we should view them as a wake-up call to drive us to behave and consume within the limits of our planet – to make sure we view sustainability as central, not an occasional ad-on “luxury”. It’s not too late to address the impacts of climate change. Yes, we need political action to address the destructive effects of climate change on a global scale, but we shouldn’t forget that it’s also possible to act at an individual level, whether that is by campaigning for renewed international action on climate change or by ensuring that we lead our lives in a sustainable manner. The global demand for natural resources is unprecedented, and will only increase as the population continues to skyrocket. Everyone, and every oganisation, can play a part in ensuring that their carbon footprint is as light as possible, for example, by reassessing water and energy use.
We choose to print all our campaign reports with Seacourt, as they use 100% renewable energy from Green Energy, and have done for over a decade. Their printing processes are carbon neutral and they were one of the very first printing firms to achieve EMAS certification in 1999, an accreditation renowned for its high standards and stringent demands. It’s important to us that when we print a report about climate action, such as The Gathering Storm, we’re careful with our print choices. We want to print as sustainably as possible, on 100% post-consumer recycled paper with vegetable-based inks and waterless presses which do not use and pollute vast amounts of fresh, finite water (and are also free from harsh chemicals and VOC emissions).
At every level, if we can all commit to taking urgent action to address the impacts of climate change, we can retain hope for a brighter future for our planet.
By Steve Trent, Executive Director of the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), April 2014.