Opinion
Beyond Net-Zero

COP26 must consider inequality as an integral part of the climate crisis. Climate justice is not an option – it is necessary for finding lasting solutions, says Kathrin Strobel, program director in the field of inequality at the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

Kathrin Strobel | October 2021
Frau zertrümmert mit dem Hammer die Mauer eines Hauses am Meer
Moniruzzaman Sazal / Climate Visuals Countdown / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

As November and COP26 begin, the grey Berlin autumn seems to fit the worried faces turning toward Glasgow all over the world. Worried, because current commitments are insufficient to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees and to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change. And worried, because they fail to acknowledge the close connections between climate change and the most urgent social issue of our times: inequality.

If global leaders want to have a chance of finding durable solutions to climate change, they need to start considering the social questions and fundamentally transform our societies. Furthermore, responsibility for causing the climate crisis and its adverse consequences are not distributed equally or fairly. Rich countries and individuals are historically responsible for a major part of global emissions, while poorer countries and marginalized groups are most vulnerable to the consequences.

Portrait Kathrin Strobel

About the person

Dr. Kathrin Strobel is program director in the field of inequality at the Robert Bosch Stiftung. Our goal is to help reduce inequality and enable a life in dignity and with equal rights for all. The Foundation wants to do justice to the complex and multilayered issue of inequality and highlight the different factors that lead to exclusion.

Climate justice means tackling the climate crisis while representing all groups of society adequately, thereby ensuring more just and equal results. Three principles are at the heart of demands for COP26 and beyond:

  • Be serious about reaching set targets and think beyond CO2: States must finally start to measure the steps they take against defined goals and recognize that more drastic changes are necessary. Furthermore, the protection of human rights and the realization of the UN Sustainable Development Goals should be an integral part of all measures taken.
  • Make sure no one is left behind: All countries must have a chance to participate in all political processes relevant to them, without majority voting going to the detriment of those most affected. Effective representation and participation must extend from the international to the local level and include not only state actors but all groups of society. The principle of free, informed prior consent must be respected and feedback and grievance redress mechanisms be installed.
  • Adequately support those who are hit the hardest: Glasgow needs to make sure that resources are made available to those who need it most, both to deal with the consequences of climate change and to boost the resilience of vulnerable communities. This must go well beyond the $100 billion pledged in 2009.

The Robert Bosch Stiftung supports actors that strive for climate justice and pursue joint strategies for environmental sustainability and social justice. Among others, it funds the Global Greengrants Fund which supports grassroots and community-based work as well as the Climate Justice Resilience Fund that helps vulnerable groups adapt and build resilience. Today, at COP26, the Just Transition Donor Collaborative invites donors, activists and those on the front lines to discuss what is needed from philanthropy. Luckily, there is a difference between a grey Berlin autumn day and the lack of climate justice: To fight the latter, you can do more than make a cup of tea.