Climate Change and Human Rights – on the Path to Solutions

climate changeBy Xavier Kleinermann- On 11 July 2012 a joint Hearing on the Implications of Climate Change on Human Rights was organised at the European Parliament by the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, and the Subcommittee on Human Rights.

The hearing was opened by Mr. Matthias Groote, member of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D), and co-chairman of the hearing. He highlighted that developing countries, despite being lesser contributors to climate change, will suffer the most from its consequences. For example, Peru, which contributes only 0.14% of carbon emissions worldwide, will be among the top 10 countries most affected by climate change.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, who was invited to speak at the hearing, noted that from 2000 to 2004 about 262 million people were affected by climate disasters, 98% of whom came from developing countries. « Climate change will have a severe impact on the ability of certain regions and communities to feed themselves, and thus on the availability of food » he said, before adding that the right to food had also been strongly affected by agrofuel production.

Mr. De Schutter also highlighted the case of the Maldives where rising water levels are endangering the survival of small island nation, and more immediately, jeopardising their right to housing due to the scarcity of land.

But, maybe the most pressing concern on the agenda was the plight of climate refugees who haven’t as yet received proper consideration under international law.

The discussion called for EU Member States to raise awareness of the human rights dimension of climate change and offer solutions on a global as well as national level, including a greater mobilization of public and private services, integration of local producers in the agrofuel production, and outline a common definition of climate refugees and their rights within a legal framework.

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