In the framework of the First Catalan Congress of Environmental Law , organized by the URV, CEDAT and the Department of Territory and Sustainability, on 17, 18 and 19 January 2018, INSTA made a communication on socio-environmental conflicts and climate justice in Catalonia.
In recent times, since certain economic indicators denote a recovery of the economy in Catalonia, there have been some conflicts arising from environmental aggressions caused by urban development, industrial, energy, etc., and which have led to a significant citizen response in the form of complaints, campaigns and other forms of protest. The reasons for this resurgence of certain conflicts could be found in factors such as the lack of global territorial planning, in the definition of sectoral country strategies, among others. The case of environmental conflicts related to climate change and its effects on Catalonia is no exception in this analysis. Cases such as rising sea levels over the Ebro Delta, the reduction of glaciers and the level of snow in the Pyrenees, as well as impacts related to drought and the increased risk of fires, are socio-environmental conflicts. with a clear component of climate justice.
The presentation addressed these socio-environmental conflicts from the concept of equity and environmental justice, in a broad sense of the concept. According to the publication prepared by the Advisory Council for Sustainable Development of the Generalitat de Catalunya, entitled “Environmental equity in Catalonia: Integration of environmental, territorial and social dimensions in decision-making”, environmental equity “aims to achieve an equitable distribution of assets and environmental impacts between different social groups and territories, as well as ensuring that all citizens have equal opportunities to participate in decision-making with implications for their environment.These objectives are being reaffirmed as essential for any society that wants to meet the challenge of sustainability successfully. ”
According to the authors of the study, environmental equity must be understood from three points of view: procedural equity, geographical equity and social equity. Some authors place environmental equity in the hands of the concept of environmental justice, as it is intended to give a political approach. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines environmental justice as “the fair treatment and participation of all people, regardless of race, color, nation of origin, or income toward development.” implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies Fair treatment means that no population group, including different races or socio-economic groups, has to bear a disproportionate percentage of negative environmental impacts as a result of industrial, municipal operations or commercial, federal, state, or local policies and programs Participation means that potentially affected communities have the appropriate opportunity to participate in decisions related to activities that affect their environment and / or health; public participation can influence the decisions taken by regulatory agencies, that the concerns of all participants will be taken into account in decision making; and that decision-makers facilitate the participation of those potentially affected. ”
How can equity and environmental justice define climate justice in Catalonia? What socio-environmental conflicts are happening and will happen in the future in the Catalan territory? How will they have to deal with it? These are the issues that the communication presented sought to resolve.