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28 Nov 2023

Kirk Herbertson, Just Security

Commentary: To avert climate crisis, democracies need to protect civic space

"To Avert Climate Crisis, Democracies Need to Protect Civic Space", 27 November 2023

...The UAE’s disregard for the U.N. human rights system also contrasts sharply with demands from civil society that governments treat the protection of civic space and human rights as integral parts of global climate negotiations. Each year, hundreds of environmental defenders on the frontlines of the climate crisis are assassinated, while thousands more face criminalization and other forms of attack, a trend which carries profound implications for the success of global climate action.

We are already seeing the climate benefits of open civic space. Local communities are driving the innovation of new climate solutions. Indigenous communities are leading efforts to stop deforestation, safeguarding biodiverse regions, and spearheading clean energy projects. Social justice movements have mobilized to stop new fossil fuel development...

These climate benefits cannot arise, however, if governments and the private sector are actively restricting civic space and punishing those who try to participate in public life... Most of the reported killings of environmental defenders take place in democratic countries and are linked to business activities...