Talking about environmental justice also implies addressing the much-discussed yet under-theorised concept of intergenerational equity. What does intergenerational equity actually mean, and how to concretely achieve it? This paper will attempt at answering these crucial questions by analysing the youth presence in Copenhagen during the COP15 climate negotiations. An initial literature review will lead us to observe that, although the concept of intergenerational equity has not (yet) been translated into a legal obligation in the sense that it is not explicitly embedded within international, national or regional legal instruments, it still remains a moral responsibility vis-à-vis future generations, which deserve the right to be accounted for in today’s climate change-related decision-making. Nevertheless, despite the absence of a legal rooting, and from a more practical point of view, intergenerational equity means concrete opportunities for implementation. To prove this hypothesis, we will introduce the case of the youth movement that has generated in Copenhagen before, during and after the COP15 negotiations. We will argue that the mobilisation of the world’s youth at local, national, regional and international levels is crucial for operationalising intergenerational equity and hence, at least partly, realising environmental justice. To this end, intergenerational cooperation, education, unity of action and values, commitment, and the capability to use social networks and the media are all key factors intervening in the equation. Our reflexion, therefore, stresses the importance for intergenerational equity not only to embody a requirement for our predecessors to take measures now to address the problems they caused in the past. Additionally and fundamentally, intergenerational equity must mean we, the young generations of today, take measures to avoid perpetrating the same environmental injustices that we accuse others to have committed against us. This basically involves moving our lifestyle away from comfortable consumptive patterns and towards a more aware and informed behaviour that first and foremost conforms to morality and nature.
|Keywords:||Climate Change, Civil Society, Participation, Intergenerational Equity, Environmental Sustainability, Social Networks|
Research Assistant/PhD Student, Environmental Unit, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland