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VIEW: ‘Climate justice is water justice’, say Barlow and Moist

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow and CUPE National president Paul Moist write in an op-ed in today’s Ottawa Citizen that, “Water will not be part of the official agenda at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen, starting today, when government representatives from around the world discuss ways to reduce emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. (But) any agreement that comes out of Copenhagen must promote viable alternatives that ensure a fair share for all. And this means ensuring that increasing water shortages and the lack of access to water are addressed immediately.”

They add, “As climate change accelerates, all of the world’s climate refugees will be water refugees. Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington argues that in 1995, 166 million people lived in areas lacking sufficient water for basic needs. In 2050, that number will rise to 1.7 billion.”

“Mitigating climate change means addressing the water crisis. The 2008 International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on climate change and water warned that changes in water quantity and quality would affect the availability of food and lead to greater poverty among rural farmers in the Global South.”

“Water must be recognized as a human right, meaning that all people must have access to a reasonable amount of water for basic needs without discrimination. Universal access to water must be managed collectively and democratically to ensure that it is distributed equitably and sustainably.”

“Representatives from the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Council of Canadians, the Indigenous Environmental Network and other participating groups are taking this message to Copenhagen. We will join other water justice advocates in demanding that water issues be a key element in climate talks. With increasing water shortages, this is the only way to ensure that all people have their fair share of this vital resource.”

They conclude, “Climate change and the ensuing water shortages must not breathe new life into a failed economic model of unregulated free trade. International discussions must instead generate a new model. We are at a crossroads and the right choices can set us on a course to environmental and economic recovery. We can learn from past mistakes and build plans based on justice for people and the environment.”

To read their full op-ed, please go to http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/Climate+change+about+water/2311041/story.html.