Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (second left) at the close of the twenty-first session of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (second left) at the close of the twenty-first session of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris. Photo: United Nations | FlickrCC.

The challenge of combating climate change, especially of limiting global temperature increase over the rest of the century, is a difficult but critical one. The climate change conference in Paris, held in December of 2015, is aimed at finding a way to curb emissions by moving as many countries as possible toward greener energy.

But one problem, pointed out by activists observing the conference, is how to handle human rights when it comes to improving the environment. They insist that human rights, indigenous rights, food security, and gender equality be included in the Paris climate change agreement, to safeguard people who will be hindered, primarily economically, by switching gears on energy. So far, those issues are only touched on in the preamble.

Saving the planet from ourselves will require broad, sweeping changes brought on by diplomacy and skillful use of politics. Whole economies will have to adapt, and when projects like this go forward, historically, there are people, usually poor, often people of color, who suffer for change. And these are people who have already had to give up enough.

One of the sticking points is how to finance shifts in energy production in developing countries. Developing nations are already working hard to catch up to their neighbors, and requiring them to change the way they’re doing things can be unfair. After all, it’s the giants of industry like the United States and China that have, historically, produced the most pollution. Some nations had been suffering the effects of climate change before they started contributing to it.

But, nations, especially the United States, are often loathe to admit to their wrongdoing, much less chip in to help out their neighbors in times of need. Shouldn’t the worse polluters, especially the economically stable ones, be required to save the planet their behavior endangers?

About 

Martin Ackerman is a freelance writer and current editor originally from Staten Island, NY. His university schooling focused on English education and Japanese. He has a (not so secret) passion for art history and political science. When he isn't writing or editing you can find him at sci-tech conventions, building the latest LEGO city or pampering his cat, Tea. You can follow him on Twitter @MarMackerman.