The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) is taking place in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November 2021.
European Disability Forum (EDF) will be participating at COP26, with our partner organisations, to ensure that the outcomes respect the rights of persons with disabilities.
EDF calls on the European Union, national governments and other stakeholders involved in climate action to recognise the disproportionate impact of climate change on persons with disabilities, and to ensure that all mitigation, adaptation, finance and collaboration efforts are fully accessible to, and inclusive of persons with disabilities, through their representative organisations.
What does climate change mean for persons with disabilities?
Persons with disabilities are 15% of the world’s population. The discrimination and exclusion they face on a daily basis are always exacerbated in times of crisis. For example, in the case of flooding, evacuation procedures are often not inclusive, and where populations have been displaced, often because of climatic conditions, new locations are often not accessible.
The consequences of climate change are especially severe for members of the disability community who experience intersecting forms of discrimination, including women, children, indigenous peoples, and other minority groups; for those experiencing poverty; and for underrepresented groups of persons with disabilities, such as persons with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities.
In addition to being more exposed to the impacts of climate change, persons with disabilities may also be adversely affected by inappropriate climate action. Policies to reduce carbon emissions, such as carbon pricing schemes or bans of carbon intensive products, often do not address the differential costs and burdens that these may impose on individuals with disabilities. Persons with disabilities face greater risk of (energy) poverty, and in some cases higher energy costs than the general population. Other actions, such as banning single-use plastics in the EU, are well-intended but adversely affect persons with disabilities who need to use drinking straws daily and are left without comparable options. This situation could have been avoided by taking an inclusive approach and consulting persons with disabilities.
How, when and why should persons with disabilities be involved?
How? Persons with disabilities must be engaged, through their representative organisations, in all climate action decision-making and implementation processes. This also includes providing the necessary resources for full participation.
When? This participation must be full and effective from the very beginning, meaning that all climate action processes and mechanisms must be fully accessible from the first point of planning
Why? Persons with disabilities have skills, knowledge, and resources that are vital to efforts to transform societies and make them more accessible, equitable, and sustainable. They understand the barriers that they face in the context of climate change and can identify solutions to remove those barriers. Consultation during the conception phase will avoid difficulties with the implementation later, and ensure that everyone is on board to fight climate change. Disability-inclusive engagement is an investment that not only benefits persons with disabilities and their families, but also many other most-marginalised people in society.
How can this be achieved?
To build a future that is sustainable and fully inclusive, European Disability Forum calls for COP 26 to address and plan the implementation of the following priorities.
Specifically, EDF calls on the European Union and its Member States to incorporate these priorities in implementation of the Green Deal and the EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change:
- Promote a disability inclusive rights-based approach to climate action
- Apply an intersectional lens to all of this work
- Ensure all mechanisms facilitate meaningful participation of persons with disabilities
- Dedicate finance that will ensure disability inclusive mitigation and adaptation actions
- Integrate full inclusion of the rights of persons with disabilities into regional and national climate change action plans and commitments
- Ensure full accessibility of all climate change communications and events
- Catalyse a just transition to a future of work that is fully accessible to and inclusive of persons with disabilities.
Interview by BBC News Channel
On 28th of October 2021 Nadia Haddad, EDF Executive member was interviewed live by BBC News Channel journalist Rebecca Jones. During the conversation, Nadia highlighted the devastating impact of the climate crisis on persons with disabilities.
Gordon Rattray – International Cooperation Officer
Photo credit: UN