Calls to focus on human rights in govt. & company actions

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Article
12 April 2016

Summary report of event: "Business and Climate Justice: What role can business play in tackling the human rights impacts of climate change?"

Author: UN Global Compact France

Participants: Brice Lalonde (UN Global Compact), Volker Türk (UNHCR), Mary Robinson (President of Mary Robinson Foundation & Former President of Ireland), Marine Franck (UNHCR), Didier Terrolle (Sanofi), Pascale Guiffant (Suez Environnement), Philip Bloomer (Business & Human Rights Resource Centre).

Mr. Lalonde opened the conference by addressing the impacts of climate change on the human rights, their dire consequences on societies, as well as on businesses and their supply chains. Initiatives such as the UN Global Compact demonstrate a growing responsibility from the corporate sector to address these issues. Any action to address climate change should be the result of a careful work to protect and respect human rights, not further undermine them...Mrs. Robinson...[said]...businesses can be efficient actors in managing climate risk, building resilience, and ultimately secure climate justice. To that extend, they need to show leadership, responsibility, and transparence...According to Philip Bloomer, the main question is not to know if the transition will happen or not, but if it will be a fair process. On the subject of climate justice, many actors suffer from the classification of issues: climate change and human rights are perceived as two separate topics, making it harder to solve problems linked to both topics or allowing them to clash with each other. A move towards renewable energies is essential for a sustainable growth, but many projects of windfarm or hydroelectric dams are linked to human rights abuses, for example in Mexico or in Brazil. Solving the issues of climate change must not come at the expense of the rights of communities and workers...According to Pascale Guiffant, the private sector is already very organized on climate change issues and pushing for more awareness. Assessing companies impacts on society demonstrates that their action can already be positive. For example, while implementing waste management solutions in Morocco, Suez not only provided technical solutions, but also worked in partnership with local waste keepers to structure and legitimate their own activity....There is a growing need for “informed projects”, looking not only to reduce impact on the environment, but their own impact on populations and societies as well, and beneficiating from having a bigger picture.

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Article
14 December 2015

Why are human rights essential to a global climate regime?

Author: Ayeen Karunungan, human rights advocate, openDemocracy (UK)

…The issue of climate change has long ceased to be just an environmental issue…Climate change has become a serious threat to even the most basic fundamental human rights…It has even become a threat to the very existence of some peoples…there will be no climate justice without human rights…Not everyone agrees on human rights, however. The Arab countries have been blocking human rights inside the negotiations. A row between Israel, the US, and Saudi Arabia broke out on Thursday because Saudi Arabia insisted on putting “occupied territories” as part of the agreement…Israel has occupied territories consisting of Palestinian territories on the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip so Israel’s non-support of ‘rights of occupied territories’ is not surprising…Earlier this week, Norway was also hesitant about supporting human rights, fearful that their citizens would have the right to sue the government the way citizens in the Netherlands did…

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Article
12 December 2015

ITUC Response to Paris Climate Summit Conclusions

Author: International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)

The Paris deal recognises the reality of the climate threat, but only takes us part of the way…The Paris decisions acknowledge the challenges and move global action forward, but…the capacity to leverage ambition on the scale required to stabilise the planet is still a question for the future…The Paris scorecard is compromised by countries which put the protection of their immediate national interests ahead of a sustainable planet and a common future. The ITUC laid down 3 top lines for the Summit. 1. To raise ambition and realize the job potential of climate action…- MISSING 2. To deliver on climate finance and support the most vulnerable…- WEAK 3. To commit to securing a just transition for workers and their communities…- A FIRST STEP ON WHICH WE WILL BUILD…Arising from the COP, unions will demand…the dialogue that will see a national plan for decarbonisation, clean energy and jobs…

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Article
12 December 2015

Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice statement

Author: Mary Robinson, Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice

"An Agreement for Humanity – Statement from Mary Robinson on the Paris Agreement"

…[T]he Paris Agreement adopted tonight provides the opportunity to transform our way of life to one that is…more sustainable.  It establishes the need to keep global temperature rise below 2OC and closer to 1.5oC.  It also compels countries to act urgently to increase the capacity of communities to cope with climate change…I am pleased that the agreement is more people centred than its parent Convention…While falling short of adopting a rights based approach…the Paris Agreement recognises the need to respect and promote human rights…As a result, the Agreement and accompanying decision have the potential to set in train the steps needed to protect people living in the most vulnerable situations…By applying this Principle of Climate Justice, ensuring that decisions on climate change are participatory, transparent and accountable; the voices of people in vulnerable situations were heard and will be acted upon…

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Article
10 December 2015

COP21: International Rights of Nature Tribunal Finds Corporations, Governments Guilty of Crimes Against Nature

Author: Roberto Lovato, AlterNet (US)

…[A]uthor and activist Naomi Klein…and many others gathered for the COP21 conference believe that the agreement is “going to steamroll over equity red lines, which means that wealthy countries that have been emitting fossil fuels on an industrial scale for a couple hundred years will continue to fail to do our fair share of emission reductions.” Klein’s sentiments about the COP21 outcomes were shared by…the International Rights of Nature Tribunal…The tribunal concluded that a confluence of global interests…were guilty of crimes against Mother Nature…Desmond D’Sa, a Goldman Environmental Prize-winning activist and writer with the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, said that the apartheid structures…have not disappeared. In fact, they have been reconfigured…by climate change…“What South Africa and other poor countries are doing is positioning themselves to get money from rich countries who will pay them for the right to put toxics and pollute them,”…

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Article
10 December 2015

Weakened rights language in Paris climate draft sparks alarm

Author: Laurie Goering & Megan Rowling, Reuters (UK)

Rights experts urged ministers at U.N. climate talks to put respect for human rights back into the binding section of a draft new global deal to tackle global warming…“We would certainly think human rights is not something that should be dropped,” said Benjamin Schachter of the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights…"Incredibly, references to human rights have been stripped from…this U.N. agreement on…Human Rights Day," said Friends of the Earth International climate justice coordinator Sara Shaw…A report from the U.N. Environment Programme said the environmental impacts of climate change pose a threat to human rights, including the rights to health, food, water and adequate housing…Joni Pegram, climate change policy advisor with the U.N. children's agency Unicef UK, said combating climate change and helping communities adapt should be about ensuring the rights of children, particularly the poorest, and other vulnerable groups, including migrants, indigenous peoples and women…

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Article
9 December 2015

Amnesty, Greenpeace say, to protect human rights "requires urgent shift to 100% renewable energy for all"

Author: Greenpeace, Amnesty International

"Protection of human rights from climate change requires urgent shift to 100% renewable energy for all", 8 Dec 2015

Amnesty International and Greenpeace International call on all governments to protect human rights by including making respect for human rights an explicit purpose of any agreement, while agreeing to phase out fossil fuels and deliver 100% renewables for all by 2050... 

Governments must speed up this change here in Paris to phase-out of fossil fuels by 2050 through a just transition towards 100% renewable energy, as well as the protection and restoration of forests and other ecosystems.

So far, however, States are still failing to take sufficient action on climate change... The human rights consequences of failure are stark... 

...States must take all reasonable steps within their power to reduce carbon emissions from their countries within the shortest possible time-frame nationally, and through international agreement... Human rights therefore cannot be protected unless governments phase out fossil fuels... The shift to 100% renewable energy by mid century can and must be carried out in a manner that is just and complies with human rights standards.

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Article
9 December 2015

Five ways COP21 can enhance corporate accountability

Author: Jérôme Chaplier, European Coalition for Corporate Justice, on EurActiv

The Paris climate change talks…[a]lthough not ambitious enough to put us on the two-degree path…are still instrumental for a global shift in the right direction. Here are five corporate accountability action-areas states should include in their Paris climate change agenda…[A]ll UN special rapporteurs have unanimously called for human rights to be put “at the core of climate governance.”…COP21 is an opportunity to demand more transparency in corporate reporting…Businesses need to start publishing thorough information on their emissions…Companies need to better integrate environmental and human rights concerns into their internal decision-making process…The EU and national governments should act on behalf of their citizens and promote ambitious regulation, better emissions standards and efficient monitoring mechanisms…Corporate activity is the main driver of climate change…Coincidently, big businesses are also the strongest opponents of enhanced environmental regulation…The Paris talks could close the door on regressive lobby groups advocating against increased legislation and improved standards...[Refers to Volkswagen.]

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Article
8 December 2015

Human Rights in Climate Pact Under Fire

Author: Amnesty Intl. & Human Rights Watch

A handful of countries were blocking human rights references in important parts of the climate change agreement as ministers gathered in Paris on December 7, 2015 to continue climate change negotiations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today. Norway, Saudi Arabia and the United States have been criticized by some countries and nongovernmental organizations for seeking to eliminate key references to rights in the document. Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico and the Philippines have advocated including human rights language.

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Article
8 December 2015

Keep human rights in U.N. deal to secure climate justice: Robinson

Author: Megan Rowling, Reuters (UK)

Human rights and gender equality must be enshrined in the legally binding section of a new global climate change deal…U.N. climate envoy Mary Robinson said…Some countries…want it only in the non-binding introduction...Strong, binding language on respecting human rights is needed because…"we need hooks of values in the agreement…that promote good climate policy," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation…Robinson said putting human rights in the binding deal would not create new legal rights. Climate change-related lawsuits are happening anyway, from the Netherlands to Pakistan, she noted…On a day focused on gender at the climate talks, Robinson called for language in different parts of the agreement…that ensures women's needs are met…To achieve "climate justice" for the poorest, a deal in Paris will have to include financial support to help them adapt to climate change impacts, and a mechanism for dealing with the unavoidable loss and damage those impacts cause, she said…

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