The climate issue and the fight for gender equality are intimately linked. With today's economic thinking, both are seen as a negative cost that hinders growth. Something as basic as clean air, clean water and a non-toxic environment for our children should be considered as basic rules of the game for our market economy. But this is where our current economic system went wrong and now we are here with the result and facing an economic, ecological and social catastrophe. That is the opinion of Linnéa Engström, candidate for the European Parliament for the Green Party.
We know that by 2050 we must reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent while the world's population will increase by three billion people. Seventy percent of the world's poorest are women, they are hardest hit by climate change. Lack of adequate care during childbirth means that the majority of those who die in natural disasters and in war are women. Lack of contraception and sexual counseling also exacerbates the climate crisis. What if women around the world could choose how many children they should have? It is about basic human rights that are denied to the poorest: women.
We need climate justice between the poor and the rich world. The responsibility for climate change and the capacity to address it lies with the rich countries. Justice is also about the most affected - the poor, being invited to participate and influence the negotiations for a new climate agreement.
In the political arena, women in the minority and issues concerning women's lives are globally downgraded far down the agenda. There is great daring and risk-taking when it comes to utilizing existing natural capital and we know little about the consequences. The prize is passed on to future generations.
We need a feminist grassroots movement that takes the climate issue seriously. And we need those who work at the grassroots level to influence climate negotiations.
Ill health in the EU costs millions of euros every year. It is austerity policies and cuts that primarily affect women. Diseases caused by chemicals in food, water and in our agricultural land also lead to suffering and great costs for society
Technological innovation will not be enough to cope with the climate crisis. We need social and economic innovation. That is also why the UN and the World Bank call on the countries of the world to adopt a new economic thinking - a green economy that is able to take into account social and ecological values, so that these factors become a prerequisite, a yardstick and an innovative driving force for increased quality of life, welfare and societal development.
The hope lies in the economic consequences of climate change. We simply cannot afford a society that is not sustainable and equal. Climate change is estimated to cost about twenty percent of global GDP annually at an increasing rate until the year 2050. At that time, three billion people are also estimated to live in chronic poverty. If, on the other hand, we reduce emissions by thirty percent by 2030, the cost will be 0,19 percent of annual GDP by 2050. But as the UN has stated, it requires that we invest two percent of global GDP annually in various climate strategies - in a green economy. It is a small investment that gives us a financial space to reallocate resources to gender equality and poverty reduction.
That it is smart to invest in democracy and gender equality as a strategy for economic development is nothing new. What is “new” is that such institutions as the World Bank clearly point out that the necessity of breaking the gender power order if we are to be able to handle demographic and economic development and at the same time cope with the climate issue.
Many undemocratic regimes in the world that do not respect human rights base their power on the export of oil and gas. It is the EU's oil dependence that enables oppression in poor countries. In such a power perspective, a fossil-independent society is not only a climate issue but also a strategy for promoting human rights, gender equality and sustainable development.
We have the technology to put society in a sustainable direction. Solar, wind, hydropower and biomass are the building blocks that Europe needs to take the climate challenge seriously and lead the way for a new climate agreement. Instead of preparing for war, let us invest in a sustainable, equal and fossil-independent Sweden and the EU - a society built on a green economy.
Linnéa Engström, candidate for the European Parliament (MP)