image.png Climate Change and Human Rights Maastricht University, 8 February 2012 Jan van de Venis Chair, Stand Up For Your Rights (.org en info@) Attorney-at-law, JustLaw - Corporate Law and Human Rights Jan@JustLaw.nl
image.png Outcome of Durban: "Climate Apartheid"? Biggest polluters to reach agreement by 2015, setting stage for renewed discord between rich and poor countries. Drafting a “protocol, legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force” to take effect by 2020. Durban Outcomes 2012: Negotiators meet in Qatar to start drafting new treaty. 2013: Remaining Kyoto Protocol countries start a second commitment period. 2015: A new emissions pact should be finished. 2020: The new pact would take effect.
image.png Art. 1 UDHR “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
image.png Humans and Climate Change Impacts: • Extreme weather • Salinisation, loss of land • Less water from glacial melt • Nature under much pressure→ 1.5 planets→ less flexible • Water and Food resources • Acidification oceans • Diseases • Especially Developing Nations
image.png Causes Climate Change • Predominantly CO2 from burning fossil fuels. • Also other GHGs such as methane (stockbreeding). • Also CO2 and GHGs from other human activities / cause: burning forests, permafrost and peat land (oil palm land, bio fuels, etc.). • ‘tipping point’ 2 degrees?
image.png Fossil Fuels Fossil fuels do more: • Accelerating melting due to particulate matter in air and on snow/glaciers. • Damaging health and silent killer à WHO 12,000 casualties in NL per year v. 800 in traffic. • Additional environmental damage (winning, refining, transport, leakage, etc). • Still global subsidies $ 300 to 500 billion per year. EU example of 23 Nov 2010: Inefficient Coal subsidies
image.png Human Rights approach • Our most fundamental values and needs. Examples: Life, food, property, work, education, etc. • 1945 UN Charter • 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights • 1966 Int. Conv. Civil and Political Rights and Int. Conv. Economic Cultural and Social Rights • Regional treaties and constitutions
image.png Linking human rights and environment? • Since ’70s growth linking of environment, land, air, water • Sustainable development (Rio and J’burg) --> Rio+20 • Millennium Development Goals • Development ‘Right to Environment’ • Recently Human Rights Council and COP 15 16 and 17 • Climate Liability cases
image.png Human Rights and Climate Change • UN Human Rights Council 2008 OHCHR research with 2009 Conclusions on “Human Rights and Climate Change” • Issue of causal link • Call by High Commissioner on countries in Copenhagen and beyond • More and more people, NGOs, Int. Orgs, lawyers and law students see and invoke the links E.g. NGO iniative to call for Special Procedure HR Council. E.g. Current OHCHR research Human Rights & Environment. E.g Mary Robinson (past UNHCHR, Pres. Ierland, ICJ, Oxfam, The Elders and now MRFCJ): “Because Climate Change presents a new and unprecedented threat to the human rights of millions, international human rights law and institutions must evolve to protect the rights of these people and states must urgently act to avoid even more serious and actionable violations of human rights.”
image.png Human Rights and Environment • Equity / equality • Right to Life • Right to Food • Right to Water • Right to Health • Right to Housing, Self-determination, Development, Work • Right to Family life, Cultural rights
image.png Human Rights and Climate Change • Women • Children (‘future generations’) • Indigenous People • Refugees and Security Issues • Rights and Business. ”Governments have a ‘duty to protect’, but companies have a ‘responsibility to respect’ human rights. Includes due diligence and chain management.” Remedies. From CSR to Liability.
image.png Remedies are difficult • Exhausting Local Remedies a long and expensive road • Difficult in cross boundary environmental issues • Still human rights bind State towards its people
image.png But often effective • Direct application certain rights. Jurisprudence European Court of Human Rights. • Moral and political pressure and human rights has changed a lot in the past. • Focus on victim (contrary to current environmental law). • Access to justice. International procedures, Empowering. • Consciousness: we are part of nature; earth belongs to all and future generations; together we may enjoy and together we are responsible. It’s part of our most
image.png Human rights can contribute to a sustainable future on planet Earth. “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”