Human Rights and Climate Change

The connection between climate change and human rights is beginning to get fuller attention. The Cancun Agreements (FCCC/AWGLCA/2010/L.7, paras 93-4) call for  submissions on “a forum on the impact of the implementation of response measures.” On behalf of Berkeley’s International Human Rights Law Clinic, Zoe Loftus-Farren and Cáitrín McKiernan have offered a submission, suggesting that the UNFCCC mandate an internal process to support states in the development and implementation of climate policy. The process– to include the full range of stakeholders — including state representatives, international human rights and humanitarian agencies, and civil society — would ensure that all mitigation and adaptation policies incorporate international human rights standards and best practices.

At the Copenhagen climate meeting, a previous version of the paper was presented, edited by Berkeley’s Laurel Fletcher and Alice Miller, along with Michelle Leighton at USF  and Cymie Payne, currently at Lewis & Clark.

Reader Comments

4 Replies to “Human Rights and Climate Change”

  1. Dan,
    Would kindly explain to us the specific details of the relationship between climate change and human rights?

  2. Since Dan has not responded, I will answer my question:

    Any relationship between human rights and climate change is dependent upon the highly speculative and unproven belief that carbon dioxide is the driving force, and that that
    climate can be controlled by regulating carbon dioxide emissions.

    If the driving force in climate change is in fact another natural parameter such as solar radiation, water vapor, natural cycles, etc. (or if humanity cannot control climate), then there is no connection to human rights.

    Dan’s post above is about a very familiar political tactic to invent some sort of a political relationship between human rights and climate change. The U.S. House of Representatives is trying to stop federal funding for this type of project.

  3. bqrq – i don’t think the cause of climate change actually matters at all, if its effects adversely impact human rights. even if humanity cannot control the climate (a premise with which i am inclined to agree), as long as the climate is changing, it is going to affect humans and how they act toward one another. if sea levels rise, or farmland is turned to desert, or water becomes scarce, or any of the other even minor climatic trends continues, people are going to be moving, fighting, and dying on a large scale.

    it seems the suggestion of this paper is that national and international efforts to cope with the effects of climate change–whatever its causes–should be conducted consistently with the human rights to life, liberty, etc. Put another way, climate change should not be a pretense or excuse for countries to violate these inalienable rights. I think the House would agree that’s a worthy aim.

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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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