The past year has seen climate change and ecological and human rights concerns emerge once again as a major topic of concern to governments and world citizenry
Renewed attention to climate change arose from two trends; First, global inequalities in responses to the COVID 19 pandemic (such as vaccine access and health resources) made the connections among social justice, human rights, and health, particularly clear. This made more salient the fact that extreme weather events and climate change results (such as rising sea levels) affect those least able to adapt and who have done least to cause it. Together these reinforced attention to the fundamental ways in which humanity is part of the natural world – and that we human beings both harm the stability of the natural world and are being harmed by it.
The year has been marked by a succession of extreme weather events, record-breaking climate events and still- rising greenhouse gases. The United States rejoined the Paris Agreement, and the UN Climate conference COP26 finally took place, with mixed reviews on the outcome. The publication of the IPCC 6th Assessment report made clear that the climate and environmental systems on which life depends are unstable and reaching significant tipping points which makes the requirement for urgent action imperative.
Psychology and Climate Change
Along with many other professions, psychology has engaged with the climate and ecological crisis at national and international levels. The summit held in Lisbon in November 2019 on Global Healthprioritised climate change and gave rise to the Global Psychology Alliance. This Alliance represented psychology at the COP26 (see list of summary articles and videos about this representation below). Following COP26, the GPA hosted a two part webinar, Psychology in Action: Leading for the Climate. Plans are to reconvene a climatechange summit in 2022. Other psychology organizations have held climate justice events, including the ICP (symposium Climate Justice), produed resource materials (e.g. the Australian Psychological Society Climate Change Empowermemt Handbook) and set climate change an organizational priority (e.g. The European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations’ support hub ).
A landmark legal decision by the German supreme constitutional court found that the government’s climate protection measures were insufficient to protect future generations.
The content area of the GNPHR website on climate change has collated some material in this area, largely focussing on what we know about the intersection of the climate and environmental emergency and human rights, that has links to high level reports (e.g. the special IPCC report on 1.5 degrees that had psychologists involved and includes an important chapter on the requirement for rapid social transformation necessary for addressing the problem).
Advocating for Psychological Science at COP26: https://www.apaservices.org/advocacy/news/global-climate-policy
Easier said than done? Psychology’s contibuton to climate change. Global Insights Newsletter January 2021. Https://www.apa.org/intenational/global-insights/combat-climate-change
RICHARD PLENTY VIDEO
Climate Psycholoyg Webinar – (climate justice union): www.climatejusticeunion.org/climate-psychology-webinar-may-2021