Fires, floods, excessively high temperatures: this is how climate change deprives voters of the right to vote

Fires, floods, excessively high temperatures: this is how climate change deprives voters of the right to vote
Fires, floods, excessively high temperatures: this is how climate change deprives voters of the right to vote

In Alberta, Canada, the 2023 election campaign was suspended; in 2022 Australia had to resort to telephone voting; in 2019, in Mozambique, cyclones also swallowed up registration centers, along with the homes of tens of thousands of people

In the days in which Narenda Modi was seeking triumph for his third consecutive mandate in India – in the most elephantine elections in the world: out of a population of almost one and a half billion people, approximately 969 million have the right to vote – Delhi boiled at a record temperature of 50 degrees. During the voting, which began on April 19th and ended on June 1st, due to the extreme heat 77 people died: 33 were responsible for the polling stations. There were not enough water supplies and fans made available in the state which, according to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), remains the country that will be among the most affected by the climate crisis in the future.

Democracy, like humans, is vulnerable to high temperatures: polling stations and ballot boxes are. Rising sea levels and flooding, desertification and fires are increasingly putting voting at risk around the world. To Alberta, Canadain 2023 the electoral campaign was suspended for a hundred fires. Already in 2021 in British Columbia the media were explaining how to vote to residents evacuated due to out-of-control forest fires, to those who had lost their documents in the flames, to those who could reach a relative in a safe area. Overseas they are thinking about strengthening the security of the digital network to express preferences remotely. It does theAustralia, where in 2022 they had to resort to telephone voting. In the same year in Florida, USA, Hurricane Ian, six weeks before the elections, had destroyed 12% of the voting infrastructure. According to the annual report of the NDMA (National Disaster Control Authority), one third of the territory of Pakistan it was flooded in 2022 before the national elections. Almost 15 billion dollars in damage and eight million people evacuated at the dawn of the polls.

Voting is a fundamental democratic right and we must prepare for climate change. Karen Florini and Alice Hill write it on Foreign Affairs. And they are alarming: “extreme weather phenomena can deprive voters of their right to vote”; from 2019 to 2024 more than ten countries faced natural disasters during elections (local and national), as happened in Mozambique in 2019, where the cyclones, along with the homes of tens of thousands of people, also swallowed up the registration centers. Among the 68 electoral races that will be held around the world in 2024, some (already occurred or arriving) will be more crucial than the others: Russia, EU, India, USA, Indonesiaamong the largest carbon emitting countries, will determine not only the fate of their citizens, but also of the rest of the world, with their climate policies.

Less and less climate justice, less and less rights. Those who deal with climate and environment are at risk, reveals the international survey by Ejn, Earth Journalism Network and Deakin University. Four out of ten journalists are threatened for their investigations, 11% of respondents (740 reporters from 102 countries) have suffered physical violence from criminals for their work. Companies and governments instead report them and take them to court or in any case threaten them with legal consequences. 39% of journalists admitted to usingself-censorship for fear of repercussions. Climate warming eats up seats and eats up lives, and a solution is also missing from the EU political agenda, which has promised to reduce emissions to zero in the next twenty-five years.

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