For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Amanda Kistler, Communications & Development Director at CIEL, akistler@ciel.org, WhatsApp: +1.339.225.1623

Sébastien Jodoin, McGill University, Faculty of Law, sebastien.jodoin-pilon@mcgill.ca, WhatsApp: +1.514.906.1740

Countries Have a Duty to Pursue Disability-Inclusive Climate Action, According to New Report

MADRID, Spain - Today, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), and Inclusiva released a new report The Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the Context of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. In the midst of the current climate negotiations at COP25, this report reminds Parties to UN Climate Agreements of their commitments to taking a rights-based, disability-inclusive approach to climate action.

The report provides a powerful tool for both policy makers and civil society representatives at COP25, gathering the relevant provisions under various international agreements related to the rights of persons with disabilities in the context of climate change. This includes the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), through which 180 states agreed to promote and protect the rights of disabled persons, and the Sendai Framework, which enlists governments to engage and empower persons with disabilities and to integrate their concerns into planning to reduce disaster risks. It also provides a compilation of all references to disability and persons with disabilities under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“The climate crisis is already inflicting devastating consequences that more heavily impact persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups,” says Sébastien Duyck, Senior Attorney at CIEL. “As we move forward with implementing the Paris Agreement, it is vital that this report serve as a baseline for engaging persons with disabilities in the global response to climate change — engagement that should extend far beyond the explicit references in UN Climate Agreements.”

According to the report, persons with disabilities are disproportionately vulnerable to the consequences of climate change, and empowering persons with disabilities to participate in climate-related decision-making can lead to stronger climate action and more resilient societies. Yet, disabled persons have been one of the most overlooked groups in policy-making on climate change so far.

“The on-going failure to include persons with disabilities in climate governance will only result in inaccessible climate policies and programs that reinforce existing social inequities and limit the share of the population that can contribute to addressing the climate crisis,” explains Sébastien Jodoin, a law professor with a disability at McGill University, who co-authored this report. “On the other hand, if governments fulfill their human rights obligations to persons with disabilities and ensure that their rights and perspectives are included in the design and implementation of climate solutions, this will not only enhance the resilience and dignity of the disability community, it will also benefit society as a whole.” 

As stated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), meeting the commitments of the Paris Agreement will necessitate urgent and unprecedented climate action. There is substantial evidence that empowering vulnerable groups like persons with disabilities is key to accomplishing this action. As climate leaders and stakeholders gather in Madrid for COP25, this report reaffirms Parties’ commitments to inclusive, human-rights-centered climate action.

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Since 1989, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) has worked to strengthen and use international law and institutions to protect the environment, promote human health, and ensure a just and sustainable society.

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