This article was first published on Carbon Brief in October 2021.
People with disabilities have long been recognised as one of the groups living at the greatest risk of poverty, exposed to discrimination and continually facing attitudinal and accessibility barriers which prevent their participation in decision-making. They are, therefore, among those most impacted by climate change, whose human rights are most at risk of violation by inappropriate climate action and for whom true climate justice is essential. All of this is especially pertinent for people with disabilities living in low-income countries.
Achieving climate justice for all people with disabilities, so that efforts to adapt and mitigate its impact are achieved in a just, inclusive and egalitarian way, requires a transformation of economies and social systems. The necessary steps towards this transformation include ensuring meaningful participation of representative organisations of people with disabilities in climate policy forums and the development of climate adaptation and mitigation plans. This means ensuring that these processes – at all levels from global to national to local – are fully accessible.
What is often forgotten is that people with disabilities are often natural problem solvers, used to finding solutions to overcome the barriers they face on an everyday basis. Taking a disability-inclusive approach means that these skills could bring innovative solutions to climate adaptation plans link.
As well as being a human right and a legal obligation, climate justice is an approach that will benefit everyone in society.
Dr Mary Keogh (Disability Inclusion Director, CBM Global) and Gordon Rattray (International cooperation officer, European Disability Forum)