Climate Justice and Human Rights, in a World in Climate Emergency
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Climate justice is the blueprint for a fair and sustainable future of life on this planet. Climate justice can be understood as a lens for looking at climate change as a social, ethical and legal issue, rather than solely an environmental one. This frame of justice has in its core the protection of human rights and of the most vulnerable in a climate changed world. Climate justice should be seen as a flexible umbrella that is about ensuring that the process of implementing policies to tackle the anthropogenic harms of climate change is mirroring the rule of law and is developed on a rights-based approach. It is a matter of global justice with duties spreading from the international to the regional and national stakeholders. If the United Nations (UN) fails to promote climate justice, then we collectively fail to protect human rights and negligently violate the rights of future generations. This policy brief outlines the linkages of human rights and climate change, by advocating for climate justice. Climate change is undermining the fulfilment of internationally protected human rights, like the rights to health and life; the rights to food, water, shelter and property; rights associated with livelihood and culture; and with migration and resettlement. The worst effects of climate change are principally felt by those whose rights protections are already insufficient. The main message of this brief is intended to raise awareness about the climate emergency that our world is under, and to extend an urgent call for immediate climate action addressed to all stakeholders in the European Union (EU) and UN levels, including politicians, law and policy makers as well as to civil society. After three decades of negotiating about the reach and power of climate laws and policies, we have reached a point that the negative effects of climate change are directly harming human rights on a large scale. We need a global response with strong laws mirroring and integrating the human rights project in this process. This brief aims to expose the political negligence of power holders in mitigating the negative effects of climate change on our planet, human rights and humankind’s existence. Climate change is not only linked with the obvious human rights, like the right to a healthy environment or right to life; but climate change has become synonymous for climate emergency, and if this emergency is not mitigated by climate justice it will turn into the end of human rights. It is not rocket science to understand that in a world without a healthy environment, drinkable water and clean oxygen, no right to life or any human right can be truly enjoyed.