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This is the final week of the Paris Climate Change conference.
As such, I will be writing my last two blog posts on the topic of human rights and climate change. The remaining two rights I will examine are more broad than the previous ones.
So far, I have examined the right to food, water, health and adequate housing. Today, I will look at the right to life and climate change, and my final post will examine the right to self-determination.
The purpose of looking at climate change as it affects human rights, if it has already not been made clear, is that it provides a new and compelling approach to a problem we know exists. The High Commissioner of Human Rights has pointed out that “[a] human rights approach compels us to look at the people whose lives are most adversely affected.” The right to life is at the very essence of this point.
Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has “the right to life, liberty, and security of person.”
What this means is that we have a right to live a life without being harmed by others. Climate change, and the human impact that is contributing to it, is affecting the right to life of particularly the most vulnerable in our world. It is their livelihood that is being harmed through the devastations occurring with increasing extreme weather and land form shifts. Their chances of sustaining their own lives are being threatened.
As Oxfam International has noted: “In failing to tackle climate change with urgency, rich countries are effectively violating the human rights of millions of the world’s poorest people.”
“These [climate] impacts are undermining millions of people’s rights to life, security, food, water, health, shelter and culture. Such human-rights violations could never truly be remedied in courts of law. Human-rights principles must be put at the heart of international climate change policy making now, in order to stop this irreversible damage to humanity’s future.”
This is also direly affecting people in the developed world. The UN has begun referring to “climate change casualties”. An example is the victims of extreme weather events, such as the 27,000 deaths associated with abnormally high temperatures in the European summer of 2003.
The opportunity to tackle this is at the current conference in Paris and in any negotiations going forward on international climate change policy. The right to life must be protected, and in order to do this it needs to be a core consideration at climate change policy talks.
In order to properly brace for the effects climate change will have on humanity, we need a comprehensive picture of what that looks like. The right to right is the fifth of a series of six blogs I will share with you in light of the ongoing Paris Conference on Climate Change. I will continue to look at how climate change is a threat to other human rights with my final post on climate change and the right to self-determination.