The link between climate change and human rights “must not be disputed”

Date:

The link between climate change and human rights

  • News by AUN News correspondent
  • Saturday, October 22, 2022.
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • Following the unanimous decision to recognise the right to a healthy environment in 2021, Ian Fry, a professor at the Australian National University and a former ambassador for Tuvalu for over 21 years, was named by the UN Human Rights Council as the first Special Rapporteur on climate change in May.

  • We know that there are important issues related to climate change affecting women and young people, and these issues need to be added to the schedule and action plan to address them.

  • I’m trying to make the case that parties should ask the UN Secretary-General to organize a special summit on raising emission reduction commitments for the following year.

  • NEWS Have any adjustments been made by nations since the Right to a Healthy Environment was proclaimed a Universal Human Right? I believe governments are considering how they can put that resolution into practice.

  • I know that the European Union is talking about how to put that resolution into their national laws and constitutions.

In May, the UN Human Rights Council named Ian Fry, a professor at the Australian National University and former ambassador for Tuvalu for more than 21 years, as the first Special Rapporteur on climate change. This was after everyone agreed that everyone has the right to a healthy environment by 2021.

The expert told the delegates that “human-caused climate change is the biggest, most pervasive threat to the world’s natural environment and cultures that it has ever seen, and the poorest countries are paying the highest price.”

Mr. Fry pointed out the “enormous injustice” that rich countries and big companies are doing by not doing much to cut their greenhouse gas emissions and letting down the most vulnerable and poor people.

He said that “the G20 countries, for example, are responsible for 78% of emissions in the last ten years.”

Before giving his report, the Special Rapporteur talked to UN News about three things: actions to reduce climate change, loss, and damage; access and inclusion; and protecting people who fight for climate rights.

He talked about what he thought would happen at Egypt’s upcoming UN Climate Conference (COP27). He also talked about some of the problems with taking action on climate change because of the war in Ukraine. He also talked about some advice he gave member states, such as calling for a high-level forum to be held the following year.

Ian Fry, Special Rapporteur for the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change, sits down for an interview with UN News.

UN News talks with Ian Fry, the Special Rapporteur for promoting and protecting human rights on climate change.

U.N. NEWS Would you mind describing the main points of your first report to the General Assembly?

The key concerns will be discussed during the COP in Egypt, according to Ian Fry.

Firstly, concerns about enhancing mitigation efforts to persuade nations to take additional action. I want to draw attention to the fact that not enough is being done to combat climate change and examine the effects it will have on human rights. We all know that greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced.

The repercussions are the next problem, and I’m focusing on the loss and damage problem. These are the big problems that countries are having because of climate change and the high costs that come with it. As of now, there have been discussions about creating a loss and damage fund, but they have progressed very slowly. I’m hoping to get more momentum to work toward establishing and launching that fund.

Access and inclusiveness are the last concerns. This lets the people affected by climate change attend meetings and share their thoughts. This includes women, kids, young people, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and other groups directly impacted by climate change and its effects on human rights. We must figure out how to include their opinions in the discussion on climate change.

UN NEWS: How do these concerns we perceive about climate action related to human rights?

Climate change impacts people’s human rights if we consider the floods in Pakistan and Nigeria and the current catastrophic drought in Somalia.

Millions of individuals around the world are having their fundamental human rights violated. Therefore, we must draw that conclusion and give climate change a human face.

On 3 September 2022, four-year-old Rahim stands on the rubble of his house, destroyed by the floods in Pakistan.

On September 3, 2022, four-year-old Rahim stands on the rubble of his house, destroyed by the floods in Pakistan.

U.N. NEWS Members of the UN signed a declaration during the most recent climate conference, which took place in Glasgow in 2021, concluding talks on the remaining aspects of the Paris Agreement. What topics do you anticipate nations will discuss at the upcoming COP in Egypt?

A variety of topics are currently on the table. We are getting ready for the “Global Stocktake,” or evaluation of the Paris Agreement’s implementation, which will take place in 2023. Therefore, developing this review process involves processes.

I believe the dispute over loss and damage will be a critical issue. Some powerful nations have resisted moving the matter forward. Still, developing countries have all stated, “We want loss and damage on the agenda,” and civil society is saying the same thing.

UN NEWS: And what problems does the loss and damage problem present?

Well, some of the more industrialized nations are concerned about it and are considering this problem from the viewpoint of who should pay for pollution. The countries that are currently paying most of the costs of climate change should pay for them themselves.

I just visited Bangladesh and experienced the effects of climate change firsthand. Furthermore, it is unfair that developing nations like Bangladesh must bear the costs of global warming; that is not their fault. So, even though they emit the least, the most vulnerable countries are hit the hardest by climate change.

Therefore, it’s time for the large nations, the biggest emitters, to declare that “we have to do something; we have to contribute to these vulnerable countries.”

Villagers in Pakistan’s Khairpur Mirs District in Sindh province cross flooded land to get to their homes.
© UNFPA / Shehzad NooraniIn the Khairpur Mirs District of Pakistan’s Sindh province, people have to walk through flooded ground to get to their homes.

UN NEWS: What conclusion from this COP would you consider the best?

In my report, I made several recommendations. Please start the process of creating this Loss and Damage Fund as one of them.

We also need a way to ensure more people are involved so that civil society, youth, and women’s groups can have a stronger voice at the COP.

Due to its age and lack of development, I would also like to see the Gender Action Plan revised. We know that there are important issues related to climate change affecting women and young people, and these issues need to be added to the schedule and action plan to address them.

There are other topics that I want to address. Consider the problem of increased mitigation. I’m trying to make the case that parties should ask the UN Secretary-General to set up a special summit to discuss making more promises to cut emissions for the following year.

So perhaps that will also surface.

An aerial view of N'djamena following heavy rains in August 2022.

An aerial shot of N’djamena in August 2022 after significant rain.

U.N. NEWS Have any adjustments been made by nations since the Right to a Healthy Environment was proclaimed a Universal Human Right?

I believe nations are considering how they can put that resolution into practice. There is undoubtedly communication among countries.

I know that the European Union is talking about how to put that resolution into their national laws and constitutions. I also think that regional organizations are thinking about this so that they can make regional agreements that include this resolution.

UN NEWS: Do you believe limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit is still possible?

It’s a challenge, I guess. With the present Nationally Determined Contributions and the kinds of pledges that nations have made, we are not witnessing that.

There needs to be a lot more action taken to convince nations to reduce their emissions since we’re on a path toward two to three degrees Celsius.

Of course, the conflict in Ukraine makes things harder because it forces countries to use fossil fuels to make up for the energy lost because of the competition. Therefore, that is the issue and has also served as a distraction.

But there is one good thing about it: I think countries should also emphasise how vital energy independence is and how using renewable energy is the most cost-effective way to get there.

And we know that Denmark is heading toward 100% renewable energy. This will help other countries see how important it is to get 100% of their power from renewable sources and to be self-sufficient in energy.

Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network

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