Upholding human rights while confronting climate change
As global attention turns to the upcoming round of climate change
negotiations in Copenhagen in December, it is more essential than ever
to bring human rights to the table.
Observed and projected changes attributable to climate change include
the contraction of snow-covered areas; shrinking of sea ice and melting
of polar ice caps; rise of sea levels; increased frequency of hot
extremes and heat waves; increase in areas affected by drought; and
increased intensity of tropical cyclones.
is an intrinsic link between such environmental impacts and the ability
to realize a range of human rights. State failure to act effectively to
curb climate change could result in widespread violations of the right
to life, right to health, right to water, right to food, and the right
to housing. Acute water shortages and decreased crop yields in the
poorer region of the world, to take just two examples, would undermine
the rights of millions of people.
State responses to the threat of climate change must ensure that human
rights are protected. Strategies for adaptation (preparing for the
foreseeable adverse effects of climate change) and mitigation (slowing
climate change and reducing its harmful effects) must be firmly rooted
in a human rights analysis of the legal obligations of states. Amnesty
International believes that the following rights and principles must be
an integral part of efforts to address climate change:
- Non-discrimination: The effects of climate
change will be felt disproportionately by those who are also vulnerable
to human rights abuses because of their poverty, age, gender, race,
ethnicity, disability or other status. Climate change policies must not
discriminate and must ensure protection against discrimination,
particularly of the most vulnerable groups.
- Freedom of information:
Access to information is critical to addressing climate change. States
must promote and facilitate the flow of information on climate change
and measures taken to address it. States have a duty to disseminate
information about environmental risks.
- Right to active participation:
States must conduct adequate and meaningful consultation with affected
people, involving them in decision-making on the policies that would
shape their lives. States must ensure participation of civil society,
including representative of vulnerable groups, in the design of
national adaptation and mitigation strategies
- Rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly:
The right to peacefully protest against government action or inaction
in relation to climate change is a crucial safeguard that must be
respected and protected. Individuals must enjoy the right to seek,
receive and impart information and ideas, and must not be persecuted or
otherwise harassed for exercising these human rights.
- Accountability and the right to effective remedy:
Where states’ actions and omissions in relation to the impacts of
climate change result in human rights violations, victims should have
access to an effective remedy.
Sign the petition.
Watch the video.