Together for climate justice

Almost three years ago to the day, we started The Beam with the idea that we could create some excitement around the energy transition by featuring our favourite projects and people working towards a more sustainable world. Already more than 200 researchers, journalists, entrepreneurs and activists have participated by sharing their knowledge with the publication, and we’re proud of what we have achieved thanks to this remarkable community.

Working on this new edition has been particularly challenging. Just as we started reaching out to contributors for this edition, the appalling IPCC reportwas released, stating that we only have 12 years to limit devastating global warming.

A couple of months later, as our designer was working on transforming these interesting articles into exciting features, I attended COP24 and witnessed small island states and NGOs trying to make their voices heard in the chaos of pro-coal lobbyists, while Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Russia refused to “welcome” this IPCC report.

The Beam #8 — History page featuring Annie Easley The Beam #8 — History page featuring Annie Easley

Today, as I’m writing this editorial, I learned that the level of climate-warming carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is forecast to rise by a near-record amount in 2019. “Climate change is running faster than we are,” said United Nations chief António Guterres at the World Economic Forum. “I believe we are losing the race,” he added.

I would like to be more positive and tell you that some amazing innovations are going to save us from the impact of climate change but it would be irresponsible and disingenuous.

Our planet is on the cusp of significant and devastating changes that irreversibly affect a greater number of people each year. Whilst people’s lives and homes are falling victim to climate change, politicians are seemingly unphased, concerned only by their short-term party politics rather than implementing long-term, systemic and sustainable solutions. This lack of political accountability is disheartening. The same can be said about too many corporations that only value growth no matter the cost or consequences for people and the planet.

All of this has reinforced my belief that projects like ours are important so that a greater number of people with different backgrounds and experiences feel included and inspired to participate in fighting climate change.

By focusing our efforts on climate justice in this issue, we reaffirm that climate change is much more than an environmental issue. Climate change is just as much a social, ethical and a political issue, as well as a human rights issue. Those who are least responsible for it are the ones who suffer its gravest consequences. We need to assume our historical responsibility for climate change and we need people-first solution and policies that prioritise the needs of the most vulnerable.

As Ireland’s Former President Mary Robinson shows in her podcast Mothers of Invention, most of the driving force in the battle for climate justice can be found at the grassroots level, mainly among women. This edition is dedicated to some of the women that have made climate justice their life’s pursuit.

“Environmental rights are perhaps the most basic, fundamental rights,” says Joyce Msuya, Acting Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme in our interview page 40. For Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, indigenous people are not only fighting against the impacts of climate change but against the extinction of their culture and identity (page 36). The defence of indigenous rights was also at the heart of Berta Cáceres lifetime battle before she was killed by her opponents (read her story, told by her nephew on page 12).

Women are suffering the worst effects of climate change. In her interview page 94, Sheila Oparaocha (ENERGIA) explains why gender equality and women’s economic empowerment is at the heart of climate justice. This is also the battle of Ajaita Shah (Frontier Markets) who explained page 78 the importance of developing solutions with rural customer and of inspiring women to push themselves beyond their societal boundaries.

“What worries me most going forward is that as we make progress it becomes more and more difficult to reach those left behind. Especially the projection that half of people living in absolute poverty will live in fragile states by 2030 frightens me,” said Meike van Ginneken (SNV) in her interview page 28. Let’s not let that happen. Let’s fight together for climate justice.

Anne-Sophie Garrigou, Editor-in-Chief, The Beam

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This article is also available to view on our Medium page.