ABSTRACT

The general illustration of climate change is often melting ice and threatened livelihoods of species such as polar bears, and focuses on adaptation to cope with aggravating threats. However, in order to address climate change it is important to be aware of the causes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and to analyse how human action and power-structures have been decisive for governments – globally – in choosing more and more energy-intensive paths to ‘development’ and ‘well-being’. This chapter looks at how dominant models for development have implied material wealth for many, particularly rich males, while evidence points to the fact that these paths threaten the climate. Furthermore, these models have not addressed root causes to female ill-being such as male violence, lack of control of women's own lives and sexuality, and their exclusion from decision-making. Nor have the paths chosen for development been able to alleviate persistent, widespread poverty, particularly for women, measured both in economic terms, ill-health, insecurity and exclusion. Thus, while acknowledging that unsustainable lifestyles do have many faces in terms of ethnicity, age, disabilities and so on, this contribution focuses on gender and class by addressing excess consumption of the richest – notably men – and the abject poverty of the poorest – notably women.