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Why we need a socially just response to climate change - Julia Unwin, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
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Why we need a socially just response to climate change - Julia Unwin, Joseph Rowntree Foundation


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Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, shares insights from the Foundation's 'climate change and social justice' programme and reflects on the role voluntary and community …

Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, shares insights from the Foundation's 'climate change and social justice' programme and reflects on the role voluntary and community organisations can play to ensure reponses to climate change are effective and fair. This keynote presentation was delivered at the concluding workshop of NCVO's 'vulnerable people and climate change' project on 19 February 2013:

You can listen to an audio-recording of this presentation online (starting on slide 5):

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  • Note- pic is of floods in Doncaster
  • JRF: Joseph Rowntree Foundation is an endowed foundation funding a UK-wide research and development programme.JRHT: Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust is a registered housing association and provider of care services managing around 2,500 homes.
  • Importance of campaigning role and providing voice and building a case for action as well as actually supporting communities who are at risk
  • Note – all pics from York taken last year – show city centre impacts – Dyls business repeatedly closed and only newly changed hands – will it survive?Direct effects of climate change identified for the UK following UKCIP09 and UK Climate change risk assessment:Severe risks to national infrastructure incl coastal defences, sewage system, railModest increase in agricultural yieldsFloods of 2007 likely to be frequentHeatwaves of 2003 ‘normal’ by 2050sBy 2080 4 degree celsius rise in average summer temperaturesHottest summer day temperatures up by 10 degrees celsiusUp to 40% reduction in Summer rainfallFlooding = biggest risk identified in UK Climate Change Risk AssessmentJRF concerns about social impacts as illustrated in pictures of York – a small city:Repeated flooding of some homes and businesses (3 floods in York in 2012)Housing market impacts and potential for housing blight in some high risk flood areas long term especially if insurance becomes unaffordable (see JRF viewpoint)Potential business disruption or at worst closure – threatening economic developmentTowns out of action and social disruption when roads closed, people unable to get to work or children to schoolAt worst community dislocation e.g. in coastal communities due to sea level rise/ flooding and coastal erosion – will some places become unviable places to live in future?
  • These questions while not yet commonly on the agenda will become more important.This is an important factor in influencing JRF interest in this area.
  • JRF is concerned about the relationship between climate change and social justiceThere are different aspects to this Distributional justice: varied distribution of impacts across population leading to social and economic inequalities (from climate impacts or policy and practice responses and costs of action), who pays and who benefits?Procedural justice: governance and decision making, participatory processes, inclusion, democracy (questions over whose voice is heard in decisions, esp for smaller communities e.g. coastal areas), who decides what action is taken?Inter and intra-generational justice: implications of responses taken (or not taken) today for future generations (ageing society), who will bear the costs of climate change? Importance that decisions taken now affect future generations – moral responsibilityJustice suggests need to consider issues of rights, and equity in terms of impacts we will face and how responses are made to the challenge
  • JRF commissioned a work programme on climate change and social justice with 3 strands in 2009Developing the evidence base on who will be affected in the UK and relationships with existing patterns of poverty and disadvantageExamining policy and practice responses to ensure a just approach is takenSupporting practical initiatives in our own work through JRHT to address environmental and social concerns together (could ref our own sustainability plan too)1. Research on impacts for people and places in UK e.g. mapping social vulnerability to river flooding and heatwavesanalysis of pluvial flood risk and relationship with deprivationexamining issues for key areas e.g. disadvantaged coastal communities2. Examining current/alternative policy responses on mitigation and adaptation to ensure most vulnerable are protected e.g.overall assessment of the distributional effects of energy policies in UKexploring progressive approaches to carbon taxationexamining how far local adaptation responses are socially justdeveloping a resource for practitioners to support adaptation – ClimateFairanalysis on future policy opportunities/concerns e.g. future of flood insurance, potential for community benefits from windfarms3. Supporting innovation through JRHT practice in York e.g.Good Life initiative – New Earswick – supporting community resilienceEnergy efficient homes, supporting sustainable living/ behaviour change – Derwenthorpe
  • Wanted to introduce some of the learning from our research on which people and places will be affected(Sarah Lindley and team from Manchester University report – findings should be available for participants at the event)Social and spatial vulnerability is a key issue but not well understoodLots of issues over how to define who is vulnerable – this work amplifies the range of underpinning issues relating to Personal sensitivity- individual personal factors (eg age and health status)Environmental factors – how the built environment may increase or offset exposure to flooding or heat wavesAnd importantly social factors around people’s ability to adapt – there will be differences in how people are able to prepare for respond to and recover from climate impacts (see over) Climate disadvantage is where vulnerability coincides with high likelihood of being exposed to climate impacts from flooding or heatwavesManchester Unireseqarch has provided an index of factors affecting vulnerability and mapped areas of vulnerability and then overlaid this with areas likely to be exposed to heat/floods
  • Key factors affecting vulnerability:Adaptive capacity = people’s ability to prepare for respond to and recover from events egPoverty and deprivation (e.g low income households have lower take up of insurance, also less resources to pay for damage)Mobility and access (less mobile groups may have more problems accessing health care services or escaping from floods)Personal sensitivity = people’s biophysical characteristics egAge/ health status – very old and very young are less able to regulate body temperature in heat)People living in institutional settings reliant on others for help Enhanced exposure =. built environment factors egGreen and blue spaces (eg parks ,lakes) important sinks for flood water and cool spaces in heatLiving in basement flats increases risk from flooding, high rise flats increased problems with heat
  • This slide shows how communities can shift from more vibrant to more stressed or less vibrant communities with lower adaptive capacityDrawn from research for the Good Life initiativeOn bottom left could highlight which factors should take a stressed community into more adaptive one – increase in capacity building and social networks are really important here where communities work together to take action – very important in resilienceFamous example in Chicago heatwave in US – Puerto Ricans did better than Afro Caribbean communities – they were a more vibrant community with greater social links and this helped them in dealing with
  • Transcript

    • 1. Why we need a socially just response to climate changeJulia Unwin, CBE, Chief Executive, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
    • 2. Why we need a socially just response toclimate change1. Joseph Rowntree Foundation2. Why does this matter for the voluntary sector?3. The issues?4. JRF research?5. JRHT practice?6. Conclusions
    • 3. Role and focus of Joseph Rowntree Foundation Mission: lasting change for POVERTY: people and places in To identify the root OUR WORK THEMES poverty, communities causes of poverty where everyone can thrive and injustice Search: and a more equal society. causes of social PLACE: problems To support resilient communities where Influence: people thrive policy and practice AGEING SOCIETY: To respond Demonstrate: positively to the solutions opportunities and challenges of an ageing society
    • 4. Why does climate change & social justicematter for VCS? Motive Method Message
    • 5. What are the issues?
    • 6. Key issues of concern• Protection• Risk• Opportunity• A just transition?
    • 7. Dimensions of social justice Distributional justice: climate impacts and responses will have varied impacts which could increase inequality Procedural justice: whose voice is heard in decisions, who decides what action is taken? Inter and intra-generational justice: implications of responses today for future generations JRF focus on vulnerable and people facing poverty and disadvantage
    • 8. What work is JRF doing? Climate change and social justice programme 2009-12, c.£1m• Research on impacts• Examining policy responses on mitigation and adaptation to ensure protection• Supporting innovation
    • 9. Learning from JRF research - who isvulnerable to climate change?• Dynamic social and spatial issue (changes over people’s lives)• Personal, social and environmental factors• Climate disadvantage = the likelihood & degree of exposure to a hazard e.g. flooding/heatwave combined with vulnerability• Resilience opposite to vulnerability? Ability to prepare Adaptive Exposure Sensitivity Exposure Ability to respond capacity (Enhanced) Ability to recover Vulnerability
    • 10. Important factors affecting vulnerabilityAdaptive Capacity Sensitivity Enhanced ExposureLow income Age (very young & Neighbourhood elderly) characteristics (green/blue space)Tenure: ability to modify Health status: illness Housing characteristics: (e.gliving environment basement/ high rise/ single storey buildings)Mobility and access to Special care Buildings (ventilation/coolservices spaces)Social isolation Homeless, tourists, High housing density transient groupsInformation and localknowledgeAccess to insurance
    • 11. Flood disadvantagein England• Some areas have both high socio spatial vulnerability and high potential exposure to flooding• Urban and coastal areas particularly vulnerable• Most flood disadvantaged region is Yorkshire & Humber (ie social vulnerability coincides with high likelihood of flooding)
    • 12. What makes a resilient community? Vibrant communities • People shop outside neighbourhood High adaptive capacity • Decreased employment • Changes in economic status • Loss of skills• Increase in capacity • Changes in social network building• Increase in networks and partnerships• Strategic long term view Stressed community• Respect cultural values • Support services leave and diversity • Demographics change• Create opportunities • Skills reduce • Participation to find shared • Changes in equity• Celebrate achievements vision • Link with external resources and services – creating networksGood Life project • Awareness, sense of Non-vibrant communities –After Paul Ryan belonging, ownership Low adaptive capacity( • Leadership capacity building • Increase skills and knowledge
    • 13. How is JRHT responding to the challenge?In established areas…(New Earswick, York) ….and new communities (Derwenthorpe, York)?
    • 14. Good Life Initiative, New Earswick, York• Supporting community resilience with JRHT residents in York – awareness – networks – connections between community and landlord on sustainability – skills• Activities: – initial series of activities and events – nature, tree planting, fruit picking – work with school, Jo-Rio summit – work with JRHT on housing emissions• Currently assessing progress/legacy
    • 15. Messages from JRF research…• Compounded injustice in relation to climate change in UK – Low income households who contribute least to problem (lowest emissions) may also be… – Among worst effected by climate change impacts – Pay more and benefit less from responses to it (through energy bills & measures) – Have least voice in decisions• Poverty is an important factor increasing vulnerability• To support resilience, need to build adaptive capacity – to prepare, respond and recover from climate impacts
    • 16. Conclusions: Just responses to climatechange from the voluntary sector … Protection Voice Resilience
    • 17.