Bombs are not Green - A Just and Equitable Transition is at Risk

Over the two weeks of the UNCSW, Rosa Pavanelli, PSI General Secretary, has called on women of the world to make this CSW an opportunity to launch a call to reduce investment in armaments and use the available resources for the benefit of our communities

During the many parallel events with civil society organisation and side events organised by governments, at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW66) where she was invited to speak, Rosa Pavanelli, PSI’s General Secretary, had the opportunity to point out the loss and damages suffered by women and the planet not only because of the climate crisis but also because of war, which is only increasing inequalities and injustices towards women.

Convert investments into armaments into funds for public services and quality energy for all

"Convert investments into armaments into funds for public services and quality energy for all. Bombs are not green, that’s for sure and bombs are not helping a just transition where women have the power to influence choice", said Pavanelli repeatedly. "Defining as timid the approach of governments or COP in general is a euphemism; they are not taking the necessary measures that the climate crisis requires and we need to realise that the situation is getting worse.” continued Pavanelli.

In the last few weeks of war in Ukraine we have got rid of the pandemic and the global crisis all together. And nobody knows or nobody wants to tell us, the impact of the bombing, of the war in Ukraine, in terms of carbon emissions.

There is much talk of possibly resuming the use fossil fuel power plants  to produce energy instead of continuing the process of abandoning these as a source of energy.  This is not helping the transition, says Pavanelli, bringing to the discussion her proposal of launching a call to reduce investments in armaments :

“Women around the world fighting for justice, equality, and a sustainable environment for all, should launch a call to governments to stop investing resources in armaments.”

Armaments are the real enemies if we want to ensure the sustainability of the planet and a future for women and men on the planet.  We need those resources to be converted into investments in public services and in quality energy for all.”

We need to put a halt to those claims to invest more in defence, in armaments, while also calling to invest more in public services, in technologies to help a just transition that can really create a sustainable future to all.

Strengthening democracy within the UN System.

We have seen in the past that the UN system is “magmatic” and moves slowly, it is time-consuming going through the system with our message and with the decisions we want to bring about. One of the fundamental issues that we need to continue to raise is the fact that multi-stakeholderism is not the response to giving a greater role to civil society organisations and to NGOs. It leaves too much space for business and corporations to continue driving their interests. We need democratic rules to recognise the role of civil society organisations. 

If we want global governance to continue to be a democratic space led by democratic institutions, we need to ask that corporates and business are excluded from the decision-making process.  Those who make interest, profit, on their work cannot be part of decisions on regulations; this is shifting power from governments to corporates. This is the contradiction that we have seen in all the so called plurilateral free trade agreements, in the discussions during the pandemic on the TRIPS waiver – the intellectual property regulation within the WTO  - as well as at the COP, where energy corporates are dominating the scene and the decisions.  This is what we must change. Otherwise we need to surrender to the idea that the future is a sort of oligarchy where these big corporates will decide on everything.

We often hear that governments, particularly in the Global South are corrupt, and so they cannot lead the transition, cannot take decisions that will bring the expected outcomes. “It is called corruption when it refers to governments of the Global South; but what about the lobbies that pay for electing presidents and members parliaments in all the Global North?” says Pavanelli, “This is a sort of legalised corruption, where private interest takes over the general interest that should be represented by democratically-elected institutions. I think this is a fundamental fight if we want to reach any reasonable change”.

A just and equitable transition putting care at the centre

We women are half of the world population, says Pavanelli, we need to be heard and our position must be recognised. We need to change the narrative and remove all bias that persists on the role of women in so many different sectors. One of PSI’s priorities is to contribute to rebuilding the social organisation of care, a key issue that is closely linked to a just transition to a society where all natural, economic, and human resources can be equally shared to reduce injustice.

A Just Transition is part of a global mainstreaming approach to a more transformative economy that will ensure justice and equality. We need to increase projects, research and materials that can inform workers on the fundamental issues that refer to just transition. While it is natural that workers in fossil-fuel industries would tend to defend their jobs but there may be different ways to approach the transition. It is crucial to raise awareness and create the conditions to propose alternative models involving workers, women and the community working towards a solution, because together, we can be stronger.

In PSI, we  are focusing our work towards a just transition that includes women in all spheres of activities. One of the most important themes we want to tackle, is changing the sexual division of work and this has an impact, of course, on all areas, in all our social relations in terms of labour, in terms of our communities, but also in the energy sector which is a male-dominated sector. Energy democracy is one of the principles that has to inspire this just transition, and we must fight this trend where corporates and energy producers are green washing, rather than introducing measures that can lead to a just transition.

Finally, Pavanelli called to ensure that energy be considered a fundamental human right, respected as a common good and regulated by governments.