According to Olivier De Schutter “We can overcome the problems of delivering collective action on climate change by treating mining, deforestation, ocean degradation and more as violations of human rights”
Global climate-change talks often resemble the scene of a traffic accident. Multiple voices shout each other down in a bid to tell their own version of events. What is the real damage, how quickly must it be repaired, and who should foot the bill?
But the real concern is not that the debate is congested and gridlocked; it is that the current clamour masks a deeper failing, namely to identify an honest starting point. In Prosperity Without Growth, the economist Tim Jackson convincingly expounds the myth of “absolute decoupling” of emissions from economic growth. The growth of emissions can be slowed, relative to the growth rate of the economy. However, emissions cannot conceivably be stalled or reversed while the economy continues to expand, however great the carbon-saving technologies of the coming years.
If our political processes cannot conceive of a non-growth future, and yet a fundamental rethink of growth is the only honest starting point for the fight against climate change, then those political processes are clearly not fit for purpose.
Does this mean that democracy has failed, and must be sacrificed for authoritarian solutions? The solution may in fact be the polar opposite. A system where failing governance procedures are forced to think long-term does not necessarily require anti-democratic “climate tzars”. Instead, this revolution can be hyper-democratic and guided by human rights.