Journal Article

IDS Bulletin Vol. 35 Nos. 3

Climate Justice: A New Social Movement for Atmospheric Rights

Published on 1 July 2004

Many of those in the front lines of climate change negotiations are frustrated. The global policy process is moving too slowly in relation to the scale of the problem.

Political will is lacking, not only in the North and particularly in the USA, as is well known, but now increasingly in the South as well, in response to the North’s foot-dragging, to Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) pressure, as to perceptions that economic growth will suffer. Civil society coalitions, in the North and the South, are as yet too weak to bring sufficient pressure. ‘The chances of our getting anywhere near where we need to be with international diplomacy are grim,’ one policy advocate said. ‘We need other forces. What might these be and what are the chances of mobilising them?’ This article asks what social movements are emerging as a force for action on climate change, to reinforce the efforts of sympathetic non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and diplomats. Specifically, it asks how such social movements might urge international development actors to move more squarely into the arena from their stance on the sidelines and to recognise climate change as one of the greatest risks to poor people – a force capable of literally “undoing” decades of development. There is also a need to reconcile the sometimes conflicting messages and objectives of civil society coalitions working on the issue in the North and South and to move from protest and criticism to concrete proposals.

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This article comes from the IDS Bulletin 35.3 (2004) The Adaptation Deficit in Water Resource Management

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Pettit, J. (2004) Climate Justice: A New Social Movement for Atmospheric Rights. IDS Bulletin 35(3): 102-106

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Jethro Pettit

Emeritus Fellow

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Pettit, Jethro
IDS Bulletin, volume 35, issue 3


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