Climate Silence Sentences the World to Climate Violence
By Meghan McCarthy
As a young woman coming to Qatar, I was told that despite the reservations I might have, this country was one of the safest in the world. With strict laws and low crime rates, there was a very low likelihood that harm would come to me or other women on my delegation. Heaving a sigh of relief, I moved onto worrying about the many other things on my plate.
This information I received is fundamentally flawed. In coming to COP, not only do we subject ourselves to violence, but we are also operating within a very violent system. We witness it, we are a part of it, and we see it legitimized. The perpetrators of this violence are celebrated and welcomed both into this country and into the halls of COP18.
So what is violence, then? Violence is human suffering: the physical and emotional harm to people. When a violent act is committed there are clear criminals, and clearly affected peoples. Climate change is a particularly vile form of violence. Though many say that climate change is an environmental issue, there are real people, organizations, and countries responsible for these crimes.
The violence here is widespread, and spans across a broad spectrum of offences, and includes everything from property damage to forced migration, from loss of livelihood to loss of life. The loss of a loved one is a terrible tragedy, one that within many of our judicial systems has severe consequences. To take someone’s life, especially when the act is conscious, is called murder.
Murder, amongst the other crimes listed above, do and will continue to exist as long as this process and the text which is produced within it lacks equity, justice and ambition. The dirty developed nations are fully aware of the extreme impacts of climate change, have the resources to address it, yet refuse to do so. This inaction , and in some cases concious fueling of the climate crisis, makes them guilty of the above crimes. Their climate legacy is quickly becomes one where their commitment to the fossil fuel industry leaves them unable to fulfil any other commitment: to this process, to their people, and to the planet.
So, who suffers? The targets laid out by the climate criminals are far reaching, though not indiscriminate. Even though developing nations are not responsible for causing the crisis historically, they bear the brunt of the impacts along with youth and future generations, marginalized peoples, those who live below the poverty line, coastal communities, and Indigenous peoples. We all feel harm in different ways, but the source is the same: the dirty developed, fossil fuel corporations, and a broken process.
Within the negotiating halls, it is easy to forget the dire consequences of inaction at COP18. Policy, text, acronyms and political tomfoolery mask the human face that stands behind every word in brackets, every hour wasted, every blank sheet, and every missing penny in the Green Climate Fund.
There are no longer words to describe the deep injustice that occurs in this process. I’m at a loss. I am sick of showing the leadership. My message to world leaders: Act. Lead. Do what is right.
In the meantime: we won’t back down – on ne lâche pas.
Meghan McCarthy is the coordinator for the Canadian Youth Delegation to COP18 in Doha, Qatar.