Why Climate Change Debates have no Gender Focus?

Climate Change Debate – In the Wrong Direction

The number of natural disasters is expected to rise by 320 percent worldwide in the coming 20 years. – UN Report

Cars or Ships?

Climate change debate continues to be afflicted with global disagreements and political maneuvering. But it is neither a mere political issue as politicians want us to believe, nor only a carbon emission issue as environmental scientists and some NGOs appear convinced about, and nor a money making opportunity as some carbon traders want us to bet our lives on. It is also not about performing the annual ritual of organizing international debates on United Nation’s platform in one corner of the world or another and allowing states to quarrel and blame one another. It is also not about creating innovative strategies such as REDD or REDD+ – impressive acronyms for Reduced Emission from Deforestation and forest Degradation, which will allow rich countries in future to treat forests of poor countries as carbon warehouses and trade them as stocks, without solving the climate change problem.

Above all, climate change is a global issue with a human dimension. It is mostly about suffering and survival of people living in the developing world, particularly of the poorest who are the most vulnerable.

Climate Change – Risks and Vulnerabilities

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, (2007) notes: “Climate change impacts will be differently distributed among different regions, generations, age classes, income group, occupations and genders. The impacts of climate change will fall disproportionately upon developing countries and the poor persons within all countries, and thereby exacerbate inequities in health status and access to adequate food, clean water, and other resources.”

It is amply clear that the weakest nations and the poorest groups will have to now face the erratic and unpredictably mood of the climate. It is a problem they did not create and can’t solve on their own. They are also too weak to challenge the so called “developed nations” and demand an explanation, apology, and compensation for their blind industrialization that precipitated the climate change phenomenon which is putting their lives on danger.

Rich countries are better equipped to handle climatic perturbations – their lifestyle is more technology based and most people don’t directly depend on natural resources or agriculture for subsistence or employment. By virtue of their money power they are also in a position to influence international debates. Therefore, the international response to climate change issues closely reflects the priorities and interests of wealthier countries. It is mostly focused on mitigation efforts, particularly of greenhouse gas emission through large-scale technological initiatives and the enhancement of natural carbon sinks – particularly forests.

On the other hand, people in poor countries mostly live connected to land, water or forests. The truth is: their very survival depends on the physical environment for their food and livelihood security and hence, they are highly vulnerable to climate change disturbances. Therefore, they require solutions to reduce their vulnerability. Any disorderly behavior of the climate suddenly puts them in life threatening situations. Their issues are basically adaptation related and more local in nature. They primarily need social and political solution – technology can only play specific, subordinate or supportive role depending upon the nature of vulnerability.

Adaptation is also the area where gender differences are most stark. It is widely accepted that women in developing countries constitute one of the poorest and hence, are the most vulnerable groups in the world. Therefore, women living there will be the worst sufferer of climatic hardships. It is their misfortune that they live in poor countries with very limited choices which is further aggravated by their weaker gender. It badly limits their capacity to fight out hard times.


About Goodpal

I am a firm believer in healthy people (mind and body both), healthy societies and healthy environment. Please feel free to comment, share and broadcast your views -- I like rational and intellectual discussions. Thanks for stopping by. Have a Good Day!
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