The political importance of climate change concerns democratization directly and indirectly. A firm proposition in political science is that economic development with equitable sharing of the benefits supports stable democracy. So where climate change harms development, the democratic prospect suffers, too.
Major challenging long-term weather conditions are weakening local governments, increasing class, and racial inequality, and reducing trust in government. The Defense Department calls climate effects “threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions.” Since the 1990s, there have been two significant events to deal with the climate crisis. The Kyoto Protocol of 1997, along with the Paris Agreement of 2015. yet The effectiveness of both agreements has been opposed by the lack of severe enforcement methods and the capacity of national governments to back out.
On February 27, 2020, I attended the racial equity and climate roundtable 2 to inform myself of what the city of Boston is doing today to promote climate change. The event was meant to encourage conversation around the connection between climate change and racial equity. Though climate change affects all Bostonians, many are more vulnerable to climate change. The Equity Dialogues focused on the most vulnerable populations to encourage better dialogue on the importance of social equity in addressing climate change. This to utilize the conversations to foster greater social resilience for Boston communities.
These populations include:
- older Adults
- people of color
- people with disabilities (mobility, cognitive, sensory), and
- citizens experiencing homelessness.
The conversation went over the impacts the city is expecting, connect how existing social structures disparately impact communities of color, and how that impacts preparation against climate change. Then we end with a roundtable conversation having public dialogue around the connection and what we can all do to address the disparities.
Here we went over questions like “What can we do in vulnerable communities to wade off the Urban Heat Island Effect?” And the answers that stood out the most were, increased social
resilience through outreach, Close schools for hot weather, not just extreme cold days, and Community check-in- the golden rule. The next question was, “How do we increase active transportation in vulnerable communities, less single-passenger vehicle use?” and the answers that stood out the most were, Socialization of streets for cars; move towards capitalistic approach “You use you pay” and Congestion tax. All solutions were related to democracy and our current government.
David Corbie, Greenovate Boston’sBoston’s outreach manager, mentioned that in the occurrence of a natural disaster or climate emergency, it’s people of color with low income, the ones less likely to be prepared. corbie argued, “How can somebody who is in poverty really prepare for climate change?” “If I’m somebody who is making $15 an hour or $10, what is my likelihood of being able to prepare myself or family for a storm? If there is extreme cold or extreme heat, or if there is a big snowstorm, what does that do to somebody? how can they overcome that?”
And then, this question arises my mind, “Is democracy sufficient to the task of dealing with climate change and another aspect of global warming?” And to determine whether it is democracy per se—with its often slow adversarial procedures, that is at fault in current failures to address climate change, or rather a particular type of justice, or some other cause entirely. After attending the event, I believe that it is incorrect to fault democracy as a political form, and moreover, that a turn to authoritarian methods would be disastrous. Yet, it is evident that many changes in contemporary capitalism are needed to deal with the climate crisis effectively.
Often people act in their short-term interest and make comparable political choices without much regard for the impacts on others or future generations. But Climate change needs to be viewed through the lens of global justice, in terms of its distinctive impacts on disempowered and disadvantaged populations. We have to understand The connection of climate change to justice requires us to address the imbalance of power and wealth worldwide that also affect the possibilities of mitigating and adapting to change. Democracy as a plan of action requires efforts to eliminate the disproportionate influence of money and incorporate interests on politics and the media so that people can focus on the environment as a common good. Innovative methods are needed to increase participation and to enhance deliberation in politics, both online and off.