An international coalition of groups gathered in Johannesburg for the Earth Summit has released a set of principles aimed at “putting a human face” on climate change. The Bali Principles of Climate Justice redefine climate change from a human rights and environmental justice perspective. The principles were developed by the coalition — which includes CorpWatch, Third World Network, Oil Watch, the Indigenous Environmental Network, among others — at the final preparatory negotiations for the Earth Summit in Bali in June 2002.
Climate change may very well be the biggest threat facing humanity. Yet, the negotiations to find solutions have so far been mired mostly in the technical arena, and have been derailed by special interest groups such as large oil, coal and utility companies and governments such as the United States. The latest example are the efforts to sideline renewable energy plans at the Johannesburg Summit. For many, the issue of climate is a matter of life and death. The biggest injustice of climate change is that the hardest hit are the least responsible for contributing to the problem. The Bali Principles of Climate Justice seek to broaden the constituency providing leadership on climate change. They do so by linking local community issues to climate change.
Bali Principles of Climate Justice
29 August 2002
P R E A M B L E
Whereas climate change is a scientific reality whose effects are already being felt around the world;
Whereas if consumption of fossil fuels, deforestation and other ecological devastation continues at current rates, it is certain that climate change will result in increased temperatures, sea level rise, changes in agricultural patterns, increased frequency and magnitude of “natural” disasters such as floods, droughts, loss of biodiversity, intense storms and epidemics;
Whereas deforestation contributes to climate change, while having a negative impact on a broad array of local communities;
Whereas communities and the environment feel the impacts of the fossil fuel economy at every stage of its life cycle, from exploration to production to refining to distribution to consumption to disposal of waste;
Whereas climate change and its associated impacts are a global manifestation of this local chain of impacts;
Whereas fossil fuel production and consumption helps drive corporate-led globalization;
Whereas climate change is being caused primarily by industrialized nations and transnational corporations;
Whereas the multilateral development banks, transnational corporations and Northern governments, particularly the United States, have compromised the democratic nature of the United Nations as it attempts to address the problem;
Whereas the perpetration of climate change violates the Universal Declaration On Human Rights, and the United Nations Convention on Genocide;
Whereas the impacts of climate change are disproportionately felt by small island states, women, youth, coastal peoples, local communities, indigenous peoples, fisherfolk, poor people and the elderly;
Whereas local communities, affected people and indigenous peoples have been kept out of the global processes to address climate change;
Whereas market-based mechanisms and technological “fixes” currently being promoted by transnational corporations are false solutions and are exacerbating the problem;
Whereas unsustainable production and consumption practices are at the root of this and other global environmental problems;
Whereas this unsustainable consumption exists primarily in the North, but also among elites within the South;
Whereas the impacts will be most devastating to the vast majority of the people in the South, as well as the “South” within the North;
Whereas the impacts of climate change threaten food sovereignty and the security of livelihoods of natural resource-based local economies;
Whereas the impacts of climate change threaten the health of communities around the world-especially those who are vulnerable and marginalized, in particular children and elderly people;
Whereas combating climate change must entail profound shifts from unsustainable production, consumption and lifestyles, with industrialized countries taking the lead;
We, representatives of people’s movements together with activist organizations working for social and environmental justice resolve to begin to build an international movement of all peoples for Climate Justice based on the following core principles:
- Affirming the sacredness of Mother Earth, ecological unity and the interdependence of all species, Climate Justice insists that communities have the right to be free from climate change, its related impacts and other forms of ecological destruction.
- Climate Justice affirms the need to reduce with an aim to eliminate the production of greenhouse gases and associated local pollutants.
- Climate Justice affirms the rights of indigenous peoples and affected communities to represent and speak for themselves.
- Climate Justice affirms that governments are responsible for addressing climate change in a manner that is both democratically accountable to their people and in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.
- Climate Justice demands that communities, particularly affected communities play a leading role in national and international processes to address climate change.
- Climate Justice opposes the role of transnational corporations in shaping unsustainable production and consumption patterns and lifestyles, as well as their role in unduly influencing national and international decision-making.
- Climate Justice calls for the recognition of a principle of ecological debt that industrialized governments and transnational corporations owe the rest of the world as a result of their appropriation of the planet’s capacity to absorb greenhouse gases.
- Affirming the principle of ecological debt, Climate Justice demands that fossil fuel and extractive industries be held strictly liable for all past and current life-cycle impacts relating to the production of greenhouse gases and associated local pollutants.
- Affirming the principle of Ecological debt, Climate Justice protects the rights of victims of climate change and associated injustices to receive full compensation, restoration, and reparation for loss of land, livelihood and other damages.
- Climate Justice calls for a moratorium on all new fossil fuel exploration and exploitation; a moratorium on the construction of new nuclear power plants; the phase out of the use of nuclear power world wide; and a moratorium on the construction of large hydro schemes.
- Climate Justice calls for clean, renewable, locally controlled and low-impact energy resources in the interest of a sustainable planet for all living things.
- Climate Justice affirms the right of all people, including the poor, women, rural and indigenous peoples, to have access to affordable and sustainable energy.
- Climate Justice affirms that any market-based or technological solution to climate change, such as carbon-trading and carbon sequestration, should be subject to principles of democratic accountability, ecological sustainability and social justice.
- Climate Justice affirms the right of all workers employed in extractive, fossil fuel and other greenhouse-gas producing industries to a safe and healthy work environment without being forced to choose between an unsafe livelihood based on unsustainable production and unemployment.
- Climate Justice affirms the need for solutions to climate change that do not externalize costs to the environment and communities, and are in line with the principles of a just transition.
- Climate Justice is committed to preventing the extinction of cultures and biodiversity due to climate change and its associated impacts.
- Climate Justice affirms the need for socio-economic models that safeguard the fundamental rights to clean air, land, water, food and healthy ecosystems.
- Climate Justice affirms the rights of communities dependent on natural resources for their livelihood and cultures to own and manage the same in a sustainable manner, and is opposed to the commodification of nature and its resources.
- Climate Justice demands that public policy be based on mutual respect and justice for all peoples, free from any form of discrimination or bias.
- Climate Justice recognizes the right to self-determination of Indigenous Peoples, and their right to control their lands, including sub-surface land, territories and resources and the right to the protection against any action or conduct that may result in the destruction or degradation of their territories and cultural way of life.
- Climate Justice affirms the right of indigenous peoples and local communities to participate effectively at every level of decision-making, including needs assessment, planning, implementation, enforcement and evaluation, the strict enforcement of principles of prior informed consent, and the right to say “No.”
- Climate Justice affirms the need for solutions that address women’s rights.
- Climate Justice affirms the right of youth as equal partners in the movement to address climate change and its associated impacts.
- Climate Justice opposes military action, occupation, repression and exploitation of lands, water, oceans, peoples and cultures, and other life forms, especially as it relates to the fossil fuel industry’s role in this respect.
- Climate Justice calls for the education of present and future generations, emphasizes climate, energy, social and environmental issues, while basing itself on real-life experiences and an appreciation of diverse cultural perspectives.
- Climate Justice requires that we, as individuals and communities, make personal and consumer choices to consume as little of Mother Earth’s resources, conserve our need for energy; and make the conscious decision to challenge and reprioritize our lifestyles, re-thinking our ethics with relation to the environment and the Mother Earth; while utilizing clean, renewable, low-impact energy; and ensuring the health of the natural world for present and future generations.
- Climate Justice affirms the rights of unborn generations to natural resources, a stable climate and a healthy planet.
Adopted using the “Environmental Justice Principles” developed at the 1991 People of Color Environmental Justice Leadership Summit, Washington, DC, as a blueprint.