Climate Change and International Human Rights Law

A report released today by the International Human Rights Law Clinic and the Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law and the Center for Law & Global Justice at the University of San Francisco School of Law finds that climate change policies may unintentionally increase global inequality and human suffering and would be strengthened by incorporating a “do no harm” principle guided by human rights.

The report, “Protecting People and the Planet: A Proposal to Address the Human Rights Impacts of Climate Change Policy,” reviews current approaches to addressing the social impacts of climate change and argues that a human rights framework is an essential tool in designing and implementing climate change policies.

There is growing awareness that policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions may have the unintended effect of creating or exacerbating human rights concerns and neglect the benefits of applied human rights. However, currently there is no coordinated effort to address the human rights impacts of climate change policies and to use human rights standards to improve the resiliency of populations.

The report recommends that states establish a program for action within the international climate change regime to work with all relevant stakeholders to clarify existing human rights standards and their application, facilitate information sharing, and provide technical assistance so that all states develop and implement sustainable climate change policies.

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