The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
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Climate Justice Exposed on Human Rights Day

LIMA, Peru

Today, on Human Rights Day, Friends of the Earth International warned that the countries and peoples that have contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions will be the worst affected by the climate crisis, a 'climate injustice' that highlights the link between climate change and human rights. [1]

Friends of the Earth International campaigners are joining thousands of environmental defenders including relatives of murdered Peruvian trade union activists [2] at today's 'world march in defense of mother earth' in Lima. [3] The campaigners are observing the UN climate negotiations in Lima [4] and participating in the alternative Peoples Summit.

"The inaction of wealthy nations at the UN climate negotiations is outrageous. It flies in the face of the most vulnerable countries and communities suffering from the climate crisis. This is climate injustice," said Friends of the Earth International chairperson Jagoda Munic.

The UN climate agreement recognises that wealthy countries have done the most to cause climate change and should take the lead in solving it, as well as provide finance to poorer countries as repayment of their climate debt. Developed countries are historically responsible for the majority of all emissions while hosting only 15% of the world's population.

"The climate crisis should be solved with a true human rights approach. Climate justice should be at the core of the fight against climate change. Unfortunately, wealthy countries and corporate polluters have so far succeeded in preventing this approach," she added.

"Historically responsible countries must be held accountable for the denial of the human rights of millions affected in vulnerable countries," said Ricardo Navarro, Director of Friends of the Earth El Salvador.

"There is enough basis to assert that emission reduction and compensatory financing constitute human rights obligations, and that lack of remedial action by responsible countries would amount to a violation of human rights," he added.

Climate change is having a disproportionately harsh impact on the least developed countries and particularly on marginalized communities, which do not have the ability to adapt to climate change.

The areas worst affected by climate change are sub-Saharan Africa, the Pacific, and South Asia.

Extreme weather, droughts and flooding are expected to lead to even more loss of life, food and water shortages, destroyed or damaged livelihoods, poverty, and displacement.

The protection of many human rights will suffer as a result, including the right to life, the right to food, the right to water, the right to self-determination, the right to housing, and the right to development.

The impact of climate change is most acutely felt by those whose rights protections are already precarious, including the poor, indigenous people, women and migrants.

Climate change is lethal: floods, droughts, extreme weather, loss of biodiversity, desertification, sea-level rise, water scarcity are just some of the consequences of climate change.

The human cost is massive: an estimated 400,000 people die each year only due to hunger and diseases related to climate change, especially in developing countries, and the number of deaths increase as our carbon emissions increase.

Worsening climate change is already creating conflict and displacement and experts have warned that natural disasters are causing millions of people to leave their homes. This trend is expected to increase dramatically in coming years.

There could be about 200 million climate refugees around the world by 2050, including 20 million displaced by rising sea levels, storm surges and cyclones in Bangladesh alone. Bangladesh is particularly vulnerable to climate change.

Friends of the Earth International is the world's largest grassroots environmental network, uniting 74 national member groups and some 5,000 local activist groups on every continent. With over 2 million members and supporters around the world, FOEI campaigns on today's most urgent environmental and social issues.