This article by Roberta Pinamonti for Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) elucidates the effects of climate change on inequality. Roberta cites this joint statement by Amnesty International and Greenpeace calling on governments to shift to renewable energy sources by 2050. This statement, as she points out, frames the switch to renewable energy as a step towards better protection of human rights
Most of us are aware of the levels of inequality around the world and that women and children are the groups most affected. In this piece for BSR, Samantha Harris states some of the implications of climate change on women and how it magnifies gender inequality. She states that women still face fundamental challenges like financial stability and education, which could put them at a disadvantage.
“Studies show that women are 14 times more likely to die in a natural disaster and are less able to adapt to physical hazards like extreme weather events, flooding, drought, and changes in disease vectors. This rings true in both developed and developing countries alike. For example, a 1991 cyclone in Bangladesh resulted in nearly 150,000 fatalities, 90 percent of whom were women, and during Hurricane Katrina, the majority of those trapped from extreme flooding were African-American women and children.”
Samantha highlights the opportunities women’s participation in economic growth could bring and how climate change could interfere with these opportunities. She states the role of companies in various sectors in providing opportunities and reducing the potential negative impact of climate change on inequality and empowering women
- Companies in the financial services sector can provide greater access to financial capital to women in vulnerable communities so they are more able to prepare for and respond to climate-related events.
- Companies in the information and communications technology sector and the food, beverage, and agriculture sector can help ensure that climate-related data is transferred through mobile networks to help women farmers plan for and respond to climate disasters and know when to sow or reap their crops.
- Companies across sectors can provide education and training to women to directly increase their skills and knowledge to respond to climate-related events, such as disaster risk-reduction training, or to indirectly increase their overall resilience, such as finance or health training.
- Companies across sectors can also organize women’s community groups, which strengthen relationships, networks, and bonds of mutual support to respond to climate-related events.
We believe a holistic approach towards human and environmental improvement is important to maximise the impact and benefits of renewable energy. The world energy outlook of 2016, as mentioned in the article by Roberta leads us to expect more sensitivity to human rights and the needs of the most vulnerable where renewable energy and climate actions are concerned.