Climate Change Impacts Human Rights, Says UN Special Rapporteur

4 March 2016: A global temperature increase of one or two degrees Celsius would adversely affect human rights, including the rights to life, development, food, water, health and housing, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, John Knox, told the Human Rights Council (HRC).

Knox stressed that human rights obligations with respect to climate change include decisions about how much climate protection to pursue, as well as the mitigation and adaptation measures through which protection is achieved.

In its resolution 29/15, the HRC requested the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a detailed 'Analytical study of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the relationship between climate change and the human right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (A/HRC/31/36).' The High Commissioner has asked for additional time and research, and will submit its report to the HRC at its 32nd session.


The Special Rapporteur shared an informal summary of inputs received on the 'Relationship between climate change and the human right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (A/HRC/31/CRP.4),' which is expected to inform OHCHR's final report. The informal summary notes, inter alia, that climate change: threatens to undermine the last half century of gains in development and global health; impacts physical and mental health in several ways; and disproportionately impacts the poor and other disadvantaged, marginalized and vulnerable groups.


According to the informal summary, respondents called for further integration of human rights in climate action at all levels of governance, as well as further analysis and study of the impacts of climate change on the right to health, among other recommendations.


During discussion, several delegations expressed support for protecting human rights in relation to climate adaptation and mitigation, including the European Union (EU) and Costa Rica. South Africa, on behalf of the African Group, supported enhanced, quick action to adapt to climate change to ensure the full realization of human rights, stressing that climate change threatens sustainable development. The Philippines called for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to keep temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and scaling up additional and predictable means of implementation. Brazil recognized the impacts of climate change on human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights. The EU asked how to better plan and manage urban areas to address synergies among climate change, sustainable development and urbanization.


The world does not need to wait until 2018 to start strengthening its efforts to address climate change and begin implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Special Rapporteur reminded participants in his response, pointing to the use of renewable energy by Iceland, Morocco and Uruguay.


Knox presented on two aspects of his mandate, clarifying the human rights obligations relating to climate change, and on methods of implementing those obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, in Geneva, Switzerland, on 3 March 2016. [UNOG Press Release] [OHCHR Press Release] [A/HRC/31/36] [Special Rapporteur Website]



read more: http://larc.iisd.org/news/climate-change-impacts-human-rights-says-un-special-rapporteur/


 

Lies about UN body imperil not just Assange

6 FEBRUARY 201 – Something extremely dangerous is happening before our eyes as we watch British officials and the corporate media respond to today’s ruling of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which found that Julian Assange is being arbitrarily detained in the UK.

A major international institution upholding the rights of political dissidents around the world as they face illegal detention, abuse and torture is being turned into a laughing stock with the enthusiastic connivance of supposedly liberal media outlets like the Guardian and the BBC.

Reporters, columnists and comedians are pouring scorn on the UN group, legal experts who until yesterday were widely respected in the west and seen as a final bulwark against the most oppressive regimes on earth.

In desperate moments, confined and isolated, dissidents like Aung Sang Suu Kyi in Burma and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia could take solace from the knowledge that a respected UN group stood shoulder to shoulder with them. In some cases, faced the weight of its opinion, regimes preferred to release such dissidents.

Now the UN Working Group’s status and the significance of its decisions are being irreparably undermined. In their desperation to keep Assange reviled, British officials and their collaborators in the media are destroying the last vestiges of protection for political dissidents around the world.

The most glaring example of this process, as pointed out by the former UK diplomat Craig Murray, is an outright lie being peddled by the British Foreign Secretary, Phillip Hammond. He says the UN panel is “made up of lay people and not lawyers”.

In reality, the panel consists of distinguished legal experts in the field of international law. You can see their CVs here.

Unlike Hammond, who is doubtless looking over his shoulder to the other side of the Atlantic, these are truly independent figures – that is, they are not beholden to the governments of the countries they are from. And if Mats Andenas, the Norwegian chair of the Working Group for much of its investigation, is to be believed, they are brave too. He says the panel has come under intense pressure from the US and UK to arrive at a decision contrary to the one they actually reached.

We know why the US wanted the panel’s decision to go against Assange – after all, he is in the Ecuadorean embassy precisely because he fears extradition to the US, where a secret grand jury is awaiting him.

But one has to wonder why the UK was so keen to overturn the Working Group’s ruling. Doesn’t the UK claim it is simply a “bobby on the beat”, trying to uphold the letter of the law as it spends millions on policing Assange’s detention? If the UN group says Assange should go free, that’s a nice little saving for the British taxpayer, isn’t it?

Hammond’s lie has not been challenged in the British media, even though a quick Google search would prove it is a falsehood. And now Murray informs us, the Foreign Office’s official spokesman has said the government department stands by the lie. In short, Hammond’s lie is no longer simply one politician’s foolish spin, but the official view of the diplomatic service.

The readiness of all sections of the British media to spread this lie and even expand on it is illustrated by a truly despicable piece of journalism from the Guardian’s columnist Marina Hyde. She is not some freelance blogger; she’s one of the most senior staff writers at the newspaper. Her voice can be considered to reflect the prevailing view of the paper’s editors.

Hyde not only echoes Hammond but uses her well-known cutting wit to deride the UN panel. Apparently, these leading experts on international law are really know-nothings:

I don’t want to go out on too much of a limb here, but my sense is that the finest legal minds are not drawn to UN panels as a career path. … Perhaps UN panellists are like UN goodwill ambassadors, and even Geri Halliwell could be one. …

As for their almost-amusing diagnosis of “house arrest”, the only possible rejoinder, if you’ll forgive the legalese, is: Do. Me. A. Favour. Assange’s bail conditions – I’m sorry if the term is confusing to the panel – saw him placed with an electronic tag in a stately home from which he was free to come and go all day long.

And so on.

Similar ridicule has already been heaped on the UN decision by a popular BBC comedy show, slowly settling in the British public’s mind that Assange is a rapist refusing to face the music (even though he has not yet been charged); that the UN’s legal experts are buffoons who cannot hold a candle to our own resolutely independent judges; and that Britain is a disinterested party simply honouring the letter of the law. More

 

 

New IPCC Chair Elected

7 October 2015: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has elected Hoesung Lee, Republic of Korea, as its new Chair. Lee was elected by 78 votes to 56 in a run-off with Jean-Pascal van Ypersele of Belgium.

Hoesung Lee

Speaking after the vote, Lee said he was “honored and grateful” to have been elected. He underscored the need for more information regarding existing options for preventing and adapting to climate change.

Lee further noted that the next phase of the IPCC's work will see an increased understanding of regional impacts, especially in developing countries, and an improvement in the manner in which the IPCC's findings are communicated to the public.

Various UN officials congratulated Lee on his election, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner and WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

The election took place in Dubrovnik, Croatia, on 6 October, where the IPCC is holding its 42nd session (IPCC 42). Six candidates had been nominated for the position: Ogunlade Davidson, Sierra Leone; Chris Field, US; Hoesung Lee, Republic of Korea; Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Austria and Montenegro; Thomas Stocker, Switzerland; and Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, Belgium.

Elections for other IPCC Bureau positions also took place during the course of IPCC 42. On 7 October, Thelma Krug, Brazil, Ko Barrett, US, and Youba Sokona, Mali, were elected IPCC Vice-Chairs.

Lee is a professor of the economics of climate change, energy and sustainable development at Korea University's Graduate School of Energy and Environment in the Republic of Korea, and is currently one of the IPCC's three vice-chairs. The election of the new IPCC Bureau, which will have 34 members including the Chair, paves the way for work to begin on the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report, expected to be completed in 5-7 years.

The IPCC was established by the WMO and UNEP in 1988 to provide a clear scientific assessment of the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts, and to identify possible responses. [IPCC Press Release] [UNEP Press Release] [WMO Press Release] [UN Press Release] [Statement of the UN Secretary-General] [UNFCCC Press Release][IISD RS coverage of IPCC 42]

 

Different Angles on Iran

Dear Colleague,


As the deadline for finalizing the outline of a nuclear deal with Iran approaches, I want to draw your attention to recent commentary and analysis by Carnegie’s scholars.

Critics of the agreement, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Republican senators, are voicing their complaints. But as I explain in a Q&A, there is no better alternative to the current approach, and critics’ arguments depend on dubious assumptions that Iran is not deterrable.

In an article on China’s role in the negotiations, Tong Zhao analyzes how Beijing’s strategic interests align with those of Washington, providing China a chance to contribute to an important precedent for nonproliferation.

In an article on EU-Iran relations, Cornelius Adebahr, Marc Otte, and Nathalie Tocci look at conditions for a more effective EU policy toward Tehran.

In an op-ed published in Arms Control Today, Ariel Levite outlines a Plan B to avoid undue escalation if the goal of securing a credible deal proves elusive.

Finally, in an op-ed published in National Interest, Alexei Arbatov discusses ways for U.S. policymakers to move on in case of a failure to reach a final deal.

I very much hope that you’ll take a look.

Sincerely,

George Perkovich
Vice President for Studies
Nuclear Policy Program

 

UNGA General Debate 2014 Addresses Climate Agreement, Financing, SIDS

 

United Nations27 September 2014: During days three and four of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) General Debate 2014, many speakers addressed climate change. Speakers focused on international and national action, including transitions to renewable energy, and financing. Small island developing States (SIDS) particularly urged action, emphasizing they are already experiencing adverse effects on food and water security, biodiversity and oceans.


“Some members have criticized us for focusing too much on climate change and sea level rise, but these issues influence our every decision and affect every aspect of life on our islands,” said Christopher J. Loeak, President of the Marshall Islands, stressing that small island countries cannot afford to speak of climate change as a future threat. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa, underscored that apportioning blame serves no useful purpose, saying “those who exploit the traditional divide between developed and developing countries and ideological and political differences do so conveniently to mask their unwillingness to be part of the solution to an impending global catastrophe.” He suggested viewing the world as a single constituency where everyone must work together within the limits of their capacity and capability to address climate change. Charles Angelo Savarin, President of Dominica, Anote Tong, President of Kiribati, and Malielegaoi emphasized climate change is not an event in the future but an issue SIDS are already experiencing.


Several speakers commended the Climate Summit, welcoming its political momentum. Tong, Ikililou Dhoinine, President of the Comoros, Enele Sosene Sopoga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, and Carlos Raúl Morales, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, called for translating Summit commitments into action. Malielegaoi said the Summit underscored that the world is focusing more on symptoms of climate change than on the root causes.


Many supported a global, legally binding agreement on climate change by 2015, including Donald Rabindranauth Ramotar, President of Guyana, Tomislav Nikolić, President of Serbia, Alpha Condé, President of Guinea, Lubomír Zaorálek, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Salva Kiir, President of South Sudan, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, Tong and Savarin. Malielegaoi said the agreement should be ambitious, effective, binding and capable of swift implementation. Hifikepunye Pohamba, President of Namibia, supported a coordinated global agreement. Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo, supported a binding agreement that included adaptation. Sopoga said a new protocol must: curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; keep average temperature well below 1.5 degrees Celsius; include loss and damage and insurance mechanisms for SIDS; and provide adequate and accessible financing for SIDS' adaption support.


Noting Luxembourg will assume the Presidency of the Council of the EU in the second semester of 2015, Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, said his country would “spare no effort” to find an international agreement on climate, applicable to all countries, with the objective of keeping global warming below two degrees.


Sushil Koirala, Prime Minister of Nepal, supported a binding agreement on climate change with long-term and comprehensive global commitment based on common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR), equity and respective capabilities. King Tupou VI of Tonga emphasized CBDR and equity principles.


Catherine Samba-Panza, President of the Transitional Government of the Central African Republic, urged ratification of the Doha amendment to the Kyoto Protocol.


Several speakers outlined national action on climate change, including Pohamba, Gjorge Ivanov, President of Macedonia, and Erlan A. Idrissov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan. Bettel said the EU will present additional contributions to reduce GHG emissions and mitigate climate change, in accordance with the timetable agreed in Warsaw, Poland. At the national level, Bettel said Luxembourg is supporting carbon pricing.


Tong, Loeak and Tupou highlighted national action on adaptation and integrated disaster risk management (DRM). Tong said Kiribati's ‘migration with dignity' strategy is an investment in youth education to allow them to develop employable skills so that they can migrate to other countries voluntarily.


Several countries mentioned renewable energy efforts as part of contributions to addressing climate change, including Steinmeier, Sopoga, Nicos Anastasiades, President of Cyprus, Tomislav Nikolić, President of Serbia, and Morales. Savarin and Loeak described their efforts to increase renewable energy, including through SIDS DOCK, a platform for the development of sustainable energy in SIDS. Erlan A. Idrissov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, highlighted the promotion of best practices in sustainable energy, noting it is launching a project on the installation of biogas systems in nine Pacific SIDS. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), described his country's efforts and investments in renewable energy throughout the world. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan, said his country's goals are aligned with the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) Initiative.


Emanuel Mori, President, Federated States of Micronesia, described its proposal to amend the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are GHGs, to prevent temperature increases. He stressed success with the Montreal Protocol over the next six months is “our ticket to a successful outcome in Paris” and urged adoption of the HFC amendment.


On climate financing, Loeak urged the full capitalization of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and other financial mechanisms to address climate change and support the post-2015 agenda. He applauded nations who have pledged specific amounts and urged delivery of real money by major economic powers who he said are also major polluters. Sopoga stressed adequate resources for the GCF, particularly access for SIDS. Nguesso identified innovative financing, technology transfer and capitalization of the GCF as critical. Koirala, Bangladesh and Serbia stressed financing for adaptation, with Koirala saying there should be special provisions for addressing least developed countries (LDCs) and SIDS mitigation and adaptation needs in additional to regular official development assistance (ODA). Bangladesh also recommended adequate, predictable and additional climate finance, support for capacity and institution building and access to locally adaptable technologies.


Bettel highlighted Luxembourg's contribution of 5 million Euros to the GCF, which is new and additional to its ODA. Steinmeier stated Germany's commitment of US$1 billion to the GCF.


Climate change should be included in the post-2015 agenda, according to Savarin and Morales. Sopoga supported a standalone Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on climate change. Idrissov and San Marino highlighted links between climate change and sustainable development. Bangladesh reiterated the need to integrate the UNFCCC, DRR and SDG processes.


Tupou and Sopoga underscored the link between climate change and peace and security, with Tupou advocating for Ban to appoint a Special Representative on Climate and Security and Sopoga supporting addressing climate change and security through the UN Security Council. More


[UNGA General Debate 26 September 2014] [UNGA General Debate 27 September 2014] [UN Press Release on SIDS]




 

UNGA General Debate 2014 Addresses Climate Agreement, Financing, SIDS

 

United Nations27 September 2014: During days three and four of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) General Debate 2014, many speakers addressed climate change. Speakers focused on international and national action, including transitions to renewable energy, and financing. Small island developing States (SIDS) particularly urged action, emphasizing they are already experiencing adverse effects on food and water security, biodiversity and oceans.


“Some members have criticized us for focusing too much on climate change and sea level rise, but these issues influence our every decision and affect every aspect of life on our islands,” said Christopher J. Loeak, President of the Marshall Islands, stressing that small island countries cannot afford to speak of climate change as a future threat. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa, underscored that apportioning blame serves no useful purpose, saying “those who exploit the traditional divide between developed and developing countries and ideological and political differences do so conveniently to mask their unwillingness to be part of the solution to an impending global catastrophe.” He suggested viewing the world as a single constituency where everyone must work together within the limits of their capacity and capability to address climate change. Charles Angelo Savarin, President of Dominica, Anote Tong, President of Kiribati, and Malielegaoi emphasized climate change is not an event in the future but an issue SIDS are already experiencing.


Several speakers commended the Climate Summit, welcoming its political momentum. Tong, Ikililou Dhoinine, President of the Comoros, Enele Sosene Sopoga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, and Carlos Raúl Morales, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, called for translating Summit commitments into action. Malielegaoi said the Summit underscored that the world is focusing more on symptoms of climate change than on the root causes.


Many supported a global, legally binding agreement on climate change by 2015, including Donald Rabindranauth Ramotar, President of Guyana, Tomislav Nikolić, President of Serbia, Alpha Condé, President of Guinea, Lubomír Zaorálek, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Salva Kiir, President of South Sudan, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, Tong and Savarin. Malielegaoi said the agreement should be ambitious, effective, binding and capable of swift implementation. Hifikepunye Pohamba, President of Namibia, supported a coordinated global agreement. Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo, supported a binding agreement that included adaptation. Sopoga said a new protocol must: curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; keep average temperature well below 1.5 degrees Celsius; include loss and damage and insurance mechanisms for SIDS; and provide adequate and accessible financing for SIDS' adaption support.


Noting Luxembourg will assume the Presidency of the Council of the EU in the second semester of 2015, Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, said his country would “spare no effort” to find an international agreement on climate, applicable to all countries, with the objective of keeping global warming below two degrees.


Sushil Koirala, Prime Minister of Nepal, supported a binding agreement on climate change with long-term and comprehensive global commitment based on common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR), equity and respective capabilities. King Tupou VI of Tonga emphasized CBDR and equity principles.


Catherine Samba-Panza, President of the Transitional Government of the Central African Republic, urged ratification of the Doha amendment to the Kyoto Protocol.


Several speakers outlined national action on climate change, including Pohamba, Gjorge Ivanov, President of Macedonia, and Erlan A. Idrissov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan. Bettel said the EU will present additional contributions to reduce GHG emissions and mitigate climate change, in accordance with the timetable agreed in Warsaw, Poland. At the national level, Bettel said Luxembourg is supporting carbon pricing.


Tong, Loeak and Tupou highlighted national action on adaptation and integrated disaster risk management (DRM). Tong said Kiribati's ‘migration with dignity' strategy is an investment in youth education to allow them to develop employable skills so that they can migrate to other countries voluntarily.


Several countries mentioned renewable energy efforts as part of contributions to addressing climate change, including Steinmeier, Sopoga, Nicos Anastasiades, President of Cyprus, Tomislav Nikolić, President of Serbia, and Morales. Savarin and Loeak described their efforts to increase renewable energy, including through SIDS DOCK, a platform for the development of sustainable energy in SIDS. Erlan A. Idrissov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, highlighted the promotion of best practices in sustainable energy, noting it is launching a project on the installation of biogas systems in nine Pacific SIDS. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), described his country's efforts and investments in renewable energy throughout the world. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan, said his country's goals are aligned with the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) Initiative.


Emanuel Mori, President, Federated States of Micronesia, described its proposal to amend the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are GHGs, to prevent temperature increases. He stressed success with the Montreal Protocol over the next six months is “our ticket to a successful outcome in Paris” and urged adoption of the HFC amendment.


On climate financing, Loeak urged the full capitalization of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and other financial mechanisms to address climate change and support the post-2015 agenda. He applauded nations who have pledged specific amounts and urged delivery of real money by major economic powers who he said are also major polluters. Sopoga stressed adequate resources for the GCF, particularly access for SIDS. Nguesso identified innovative financing, technology transfer and capitalization of the GCF as critical. Koirala, Bangladesh and Serbia stressed financing for adaptation, with Koirala saying there should be special provisions for addressing least developed countries (LDCs) and SIDS mitigation and adaptation needs in additional to regular official development assistance (ODA). Bangladesh also recommended adequate, predictable and additional climate finance, support for capacity and institution building and access to locally adaptable technologies.


Bettel highlighted Luxembourg's contribution of 5 million Euros to the GCF, which is new and additional to its ODA. Steinmeier stated Germany's commitment of US$1 billion to the GCF.


Climate change should be included in the post-2015 agenda, according to Savarin and Morales. Sopoga supported a standalone Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on climate change. Idrissov and San Marino highlighted links between climate change and sustainable development. Bangladesh reiterated the need to integrate the UNFCCC, DRR and SDG processes.


Tupou and Sopoga underscored the link between climate change and peace and security, with Tupou advocating for Ban to appoint a Special Representative on Climate and Security and Sopoga supporting addressing climate change and security through the UN Security Council. More


[UNGA General Debate 26 September 2014] [UNGA General Debate 27 September 2014] [UN Press Release on SIDS]




 

WHAT’S POSSIBLE: The U.N. Climate Summit Film

WHAT'S POSSIBLE: The U.N. Climate Summit Film

Published on Sep 23, 2014 • Presented to world leaders at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York, this short inspirational film shows that climate change is solvable. We have the technology to harness nature sustainably for a clean, prosperous energy future, but only if we act now. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, it calls on the people of the world to insist leaders get on the path of a livable climate and future for humankind.

Learn more about climate change and take action at takepart.com/climate.

WHAT'S POSSIBLE was created by director Louie Schwartzberg, writer Scott Z. Burns, Moving Art Studio, and Lyn

Davis Lear and the Lear Family Foundation.

SEQUEL ALERT! Sign up at MovingArt.com to be the first to hear about the launch of the sequel to WHAT'S

POSSIBLE: movingart.com/un/

Directed by Louie Schwartzberg

Written by Scott Z. Burns

Produced by Lyn Davis Lear

Narrated by Morgan Freeman

Music by Hans Zimmer