Dec 05, 2014

Global Climate Talks Open with Push for Human Rights

From Scientific America, published on Monday, 1 December 2014.

For all the flack the U.N. climate talks have taken over the past 20 years, one major achievement will be on display as the next round of negotiations open in Peru today.

Climate change has been inextricably linked to social justice.

The key questions that face the delegates as they meet in Lima are no longer simply about carbon emissions targets and timetables, but also about people and human rights.

One mark of that shift is the $9.6 billion committed so far by rich nations to the U.N.’s Green Climate Fund to help poor countries.

But it’s not just about money.

  • Nations will consider a pledge not only to “respect, ” but also to “protect, promote, and fulfill” human rights – and to integrate those protections into all climate action.
  • On deforestation – a huge issue in host country Peru – negotiators are being asked for stronger safeguards to protect human and indigenous rights, traditional knowledge and biodiversity.
  • The financing by rich companies of clean energy projects in poor countries faces a reform effort to protect human rights. Exhibit A: Hydroelectric projects in Panama and elsewhere that are displacing native residents have been stalled by protest.

The social justice movement has come to such a head that some activists are calling the Lima talks “the Human Rights COP,” or Conference of the Parties, said Alyssa Johl, senior attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law.

“Human rights is at the core of what is being negotiated and decided here,” Johl said.

Read the full article here.