Natural disasters are being exacerbated by human-induced global warming, and are affecting lives on an unprecedented scale. Pearshouse urges us to consider the intersection of human rights and climate change, and the importance of ensuring a human rights dimension is included within climate initiatives. While global warming is a human-induced crisis, Perry brings forward that, historically, solutions to human crises have been achieved through social movements. So whether by means of COP27 or activism, social movements must come together to create a mass mobilisation demanding climate action from our governing bodies. Building on this, Owen agrees that while COP27 is great for drawing global attention to the climate crisis, what we really need are national actions backed by legislation.
Perry referred to the drastic change in public opinion and policies around the world regarding the tobacco industry. In a short period of time, and directly connected to levels of social acceptance, tobacco companies became heavily regulated in most jurisdictions. Perry urges people to come together to put this same kind of social pressure on companies to force the hand of policy-makers to increase taxation and create restrictions on the production and marketing of fossil fuels. Pearshouse emphasises the full enormity of fossil fuel marketing budgets that are used to expand the use of their product. This implies that it is not simply a fixed amount of polluters that are being sold and consumed, but that the fossil fuel market is also actively being expanded by companies. To bring about the decarbonisation of the global economy, we need a strong social movement to taint the social license and narrative of fossil fuel companies at local and global levels.
So what might this entail? The panelists propose that what we desperately need is for government’s to set consequences for the use of polluters through a carbon tax.
The introduction of carbon tax would create a financial incentive to switch to renewable energy. Andrews argues that market incentives must be imposed in order to see change from fossil fuel companies. Suggesting that more focus should be placed on the industry as a whole through government legislation, rather than on individual company policies. This is in line with recent news that the European Parliament has called on nation-states to develop a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and to urgently phase out dependence on fossil fuels within its demands for COP27. As Europe bears significant responsibility for climate change, it is crucial that the EU’s carbon pricing framework is a reflection of that responsibility.
Human Rights Watch Next Gen and Calls to Action
The panel discussion was organised by Human Rights Watch Next Gen, London, in partnership with LSE’s Amnesty International Society. Human Rights Watch Next Gen is a community of young change makers in London who are actively supporting the work of Human Rights Watch (HRW). In solidarity with the panelists, HRW Next Gen encourages you to get involved with local climate activist groups, to ensure that a human rights dimension remains prevalent in your initiatives for sustainable change, and to call on elected officials and industry leaders for more ambitious climate action.