Global Warming and Human Rights

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Global Warming and Human Rights


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[url=]Global warming: a violation of Human Rights Law?[/url]

Although this particular link (above) attacks the US, the principle of the impact of global warming on lifestyle has come up elsewhere.


As the ice they depend on for their way of life melts away around them, indigenous people of the Arctic are taking a crack at Washington in international court.


Nageak joined 62 other Inuit in Alaska and Canada in 2005 to hold the world's most-notorious polluter accountable. They filed a petition against the United States with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights -- one of the bodies set up to promote and protect human rights in the Americas.


[b]Last week, the Commission held a one-hour hearing to investigate the relationship between human rights and climate change in North and South America.[/b]


"I don't think there's any doubt we'll see more of this," said David Hunter, a senior advisor of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). "As the causal link becomes clearer... between climate change and specific injuries, we're going to see people that are injured looking for justice somewhere." CIEL, along with the law firm Earthjustice, worked with the Inuit to submit the petition.


"It really is an issue of equity," said Michelle Leighton, director of the Human Rights Program at the University of San Francisco School of Law.

"At the global level, the wealthiest countries have caused the greatest harm and the poorest -- the small island-nation states or populations in the south of India, or the Inuit -- are going to suffer because of the profits made by the wealthier part of the world."

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[url= Wrongs and Human Rights[/url]
A new briefing paper from [url= International[/url]

This document presents the case for using human rights principles to guide national and international climate policy.



Climate change is set to undermine human rights on a massive scale. International human-rights law states that, "In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence." But - as the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has documented in detail - rich countries' continued excessive greenhouse-gas emissions are depriving millions of people of the very water, soil, and land on which they subsist.

Oxfam International believes that realising human rights is essential to lift people out of poverty and injustice. Our staff and local partners work with communities in over 100 countries, and are increasingly witnessing the devastating effects of more frequent and severe climatic events on poor people's prospects for development. According to the IPCC, climate change could halve yields from rain-fed crops in parts of Africa as early as 2020, and put 50 million more people worldwide at risk of hunger. Almost half a million people today live on islands that are threatened with extinction by sea-level rise. And up to one billion people could face water shortages in Asia by the 2050s due to melted glaciers. These kinds of impacts, in turn, are likely to lead to mass migration across borders, and increasing conflict over scarce resources.

[b]Rich countries' emissions are effectively violating the rights of millions of the world's poorest people.[/b] Twenty-three rich countries - including the USA, western Europe, Canada, Australia, and Japan - are home to just 14 per cent of the world's population, but have produced 60 per cent of the world's carbon emissions since 1850; and they still produce 40 per cent of annual carbon emisions today. In 1992, these countries committed to return their annual emissions to 1990 levels by 2000. Instead, by 2005 they had allowed their collective emissions to rise more than ten per cent above 1990 levels - with increases exceeding 15 per cent in Canada, Greece, Ireland, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, and the USA. Their collective failure to act has raised the scientific risk - and the political risk - of global warming exceeding the critical threshold of 2°C.

Economics - which influences many current climate-policy debates - approaches decision-making by weighing up competing costs and benefits. But in a global context, how can the financial costs of cutting emissions in the richest countries be compared with the human costs of climate change for the world's poorest people? The implications of such a trade-off are appalling. [b]Human-rights principles provide an alternative to the assumption that everything - from carbon to malnutrition - can be priced, compared, and traded.[/b] Human rights are a fundamental moral claim each person has to life's essentials - such as food, water, shelter, and security - no matter how much or how little money or power they have.

When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drawn up in 1948, its authors could not have imagined the complex global interconnectedness that climate change would create. [b]Human-rights laws and institutions now need to evolve fast to rise to this unprecedented challenge, if they are to provide a means of stopping human rights worldwide from being further undermined by rich countries' excessive greenhouse-gas emissions.[/b]

Why aren't the human rights organizations speaking out on climate change?