COP21 Must Address Economic Inequality to Promote Environmental Justice

On the surface, COP21, the international climate change conference that started this week in Paris, appears to have all the right ingredients for building a global and equitable strategy to address climate change. The emerging messages deal directly with environmental justice—ending world poverty through the shift to a low-emission, sustainable future. Achieving such lofty goals will require a transformation of the global economy. Yet the proposed agreement fails to address some of the underlying factors leading to climate change and environmental injustice, such as economic inequality and the distribution of environmental burdens.

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Climate Change Negotiations Exclude the Most Impacted: the Young and the Poor

Next week, global leaders in industry, government, and finance will descend on Paris for the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) hosted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). With a significant focus on private sector innovation, more than 25,000 delegates will aim to produce the first legally binding agreement on industrial greenhouse gas emissions, as well as financial incentives for more efficient models of sustainable growth. While it remains to be seen whether international leaders can achieve the lofty goal of legally binding yet ecologically sound carbon emission standards, what is clear is that UNFCCC forgot to invite an entire generation to this discussion table.

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