Rights and the Rights of Nature
We carry out our extensive emergency alerts and coverage for the UN Climate Conferences through our site ClimateActionSolution.com.
The Institute is advised on the human rights implications of climate change by expert human rights lawyer, Dr. Zoi Aliozi.
The proposed* Paris Agreement, negotiated in December 2015, has been widely reported as progress since the failed 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference, which resulted in the Copenhagen Accord. However, apart from 'aiming' to keep 'well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5ºC,' there is no clear difference from the 2009 Accord, which in fact included the consideration of the 1.5ºC limit.
(*The Paris Agreement requires ratification by 55 countries, but only 19 countries have ratified it so far, making it far too early to claim Paris a success.)
To many observers, the December 2015 Paris Agreement — far from a historic achievement — reinforces the long, tragic history of continued and increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas pollution, abusing the human rights of billions of people, all future generations and the rest of Nature. (See more on the Paris Agreement here.)
Far from implementing the terms and the spirit of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Paris Agreement, by a common sense reading, fails to even respect the clear intent and specific terms of the 1992 UNFCCC.
The Paris Agreement condemns humanity to even MORE global emissions in 2030 than today, and a temperature increase of at least 3ºC by 2100, which is an increase of over 5ºC after 2100 due to ocean heat inertia alone. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report carbon feedback estimate, with amplifying carbon feedback emissions, this temperature increase will be at least 7ºC (IPCC AR5, 2014). This is an unprecedented abuse of the most basic rights. It is a global suicide scenario.
Furthermore, publications for the Paris Conference by the UN Climate Change Secretariat treat the longstanding (European Union, 1996) long-term equilibrium warming limit as a limit only to 2100, thereby condemning future generations to a 3.5ºC warming after 2100. (See our 2ºC page.)
The May 2016 UN Climate Change Secretariat Update of the post-Paris estimate of global emissions from filed intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) to emission decreases found no significant difference to the pre-Paris situation. Global emissions will still be substantially higher in 2030 than they are today.
There has been no movement on the hope that national emissions targets would be ratcheted up after Paris. This is all the more amazing due to the fact that the post-1950 acceleration of atmospheric CO2 and global surface temperature has suddenly jumped up again over just the past 3 years. NASA issued a special alert that the first half of 2016 is a record global temperature increase — and by a long shot. (See our sister site, StateofOurClimate.com.)
To be still increasing greenhouse gas emissions instead of reducing them as the world faces global climate catastrophe is the grossest ever violation of human rights and of Nature.
Deplorably, this denial of the global climate change emergency is the case today, and the post-Paris situation shows that world powers have no intention of even acknowledging the climate and oceans emergency let alone acting on it.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family
(Stockholm) Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment
The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, having met at Stockholm from 5 to 16 June 1972, having considered the need for a common outlook and for common principles to inspire and guide the peoples of the world in the preservation and enhancement of the human environment....
World Charter for Nature, United Nations (1982)
The General Assembly … Adopts, to these ends, the present World Charter for Nature, which proclaims the following principles of conservation by which all human conduct affecting nature is to be guided and judged.
1. Nature shall be respected and its essential processes shall not be impaired.
2. The genetic viability on the earth shall not be compromised; the population levels of all life forms, wild and domesticated, must be at least sufficient for their survival, and to this end necessary habitat shall be safeguarded.
3. All areas of the earth, both land and sea, shall be subject to these principles of conservation; special protection shall be given to unique areas, to representative samples of all the different types of ecosystems and to the habitat of rare or endangered species.
4. Ecosystems and organisms, as well as the land, marine and atmospheric resources that are utilized by man, shall be managed to achieve and maintain optimum sustainable productivity, but not in such a way as to endanger the integrity of those other ecosystems or species with which they coexist.
5. Nature shall be secured against degradation caused by warfare or other hostile activities.
6. In the decision-making process it shall be recognized that man's needs can be met only by ensuring the proper functioning of natural systems and by respecting the principles set forth in the present Charter.
7. In the planning and implementation of social and economic development activities, due account shall be taken of the fact that the conservation of nature is an integral part of those activities.
8. In formulating long-term plans for economic development, population growth and the improvement of standards of living, due account shall be taken of the long-term capacity of natural systems to ensure the subsistence and settlement of the populations concerned, recognizing that this capacity may be enhanced through science and technology.
9. The allocation of areas of the earth to various uses shall be planned and due account shall be taken of the physical constraints, the biological productivity and diversity and the natural beauty of the areas concerned.
10. Natural resources shall not be wasted, but used with a restraint appropriate to the principles set forth in the present Charter, in accordance with the following rules:
• (a) Living resources shall not be utilized in excess of their natural capacity for regeneration;
• (b) The productivity of soils shall be maintained or enhanced through measures which safeguard their long-term fertility and the process of organic decomposition, and prevent erosion and all other forms of degradation;
• (c) Resources, including water, which are not consumed as they are used shall be reused or recycled;
• (d) Non-renewable resources which are consumed as they are used shall be exploited with restraint, taking into account their abundance, their rational possibilities of converting them for consumption, and the compatibility of their exploitation with the functioning of natural systems.
11. Activities which might have an impact on nature shall be controlled, and the best available technologies that minimize significant risks to nature or other adverse effects shall be used; in particular:
• (a) Activities which are likely to cause irreversible damage to nature shall be avoided;
• (b) Activities which are likely to pose a significant risk to nature shall be preceded by an exhaustive examination; their proponents shall demonstrate that expected benefits outweigh potential damage to nature, and where potential adverse effects are not fully understood, the activities should not proceed;
• (c) Activities which may disturb nature shall be preceded by assessment of their consequences, and environmental impact studies of development projects shall be conducted sufficiently in advance, and if they are to be undertaken, such activities shall be planned and carried out so as to minimize potential adverse effects;
• (d) Agriculture, grazing, forestry and fisheries practices shall be adapted to the natural characteristics and constraints of given areas;
• (e) Areas degraded by human activities shall be rehabilitated for purposes in accord with their natural potential and compatible with the well-being of affected populations.
12. Discharge of pollutants into natural systems shall be avoided and:
• (a) Where this is not feasible, such pollutants shall be treated at the source, using the best practicable means available;
• (b) Special precautions shall be taken to prevent discharge of radioactive or toxic wastes.
13. Measures intended to prevent, control or limit natural disasters, infestations and diseases shall be specifically directed to the causes of these scourges and shall avoid averse side-effects on nature.
14. The principles set forth in the present Charter shall be reflected in the law and practice of each State, as well as at the international level.
Children in all regions are a particulalry vulnerable subpopulation with respect to all impacts of global climate disruption.
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
Entry into force 2 September 1990, in accordance with article 49 Article 6
1. States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life.
2. States Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services.
2. States Parties shall pursue full implementation of this right and, in particular, shall take appropriate measures:
(a) To diminish infant and child mortality;
(b) To ensure the provision of necessary medical assistance and health care to all children with emphasis on the development of primary health care;
(c) To combat disease and malnutrition, including within the framework of primary health care, through, inter alia, the application of readily available technology and through the provision of adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking-water, taking into consideration the dangers and risks of environmental pollution.
CLIMATE EMERGENCY INSTITUTE
The Health and Human Rights Approach to Climate Change