War On Want is a radical charity working with frontline partners in the Global South and campaigning in the UK, on issues such as global poverty, human rights and climate justice.
In this interview for Real Media, War On Want’s director, Asad Rehman, talks about the current reality of climate change around the world, killing people and destroying the livelihoods and homes of millions of people.
He describes it not just as an injustice in itself, but as inflaming all other injustices. Climate change isn’t really an environmental issue but a political one – we have a political economy powered by fossil fuel extraction, so the answers cannot not be purely environmental but have to be multi-dimensional and intersectional, addressing the issues of social injustice and the historic and ongoing systemic willingness to sacrifice the lives of people in the Global South.
There is a long history of extraction of wealth and resources from around the world into the hands of the richest countries, and it continues unfettered despite the growing ecological and climatic repercussions. The IPCC findings place huge responsibility on rich governments, but these Global North governments are still weighing up economic benefits locally rather than globally. An example of this is the push for a third runway at Heathrow airport, despite the huge negative effects of aviation expansion and the fact that the huge majority of flights are taken by small number of rich elite. There are so many other, more just, greener infrastructure projects that our government could be investing in, with positive economic benefits for all.
Asad provides some hope at the end of this interview. The activists in the Global South have been asking for years for support from citizens in richer countries, holding our governments to account. But now, there are new mass movements emerging, like Extinction Rebellion and the School Strikes, and so the solutions to the climate crisis could also be the solutions to global inequality – we have the money and the technology to do this, and perhaps we are now seeing the potential for a political change to enable it too.