By Camila Bustos
I remember being at the Paris climate negotiations in 2015 and hearing Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos reaffirm the government’s commitment to reach zero-net deforestation in the Colombian Amazon by 2020.
At the time, the government also announced its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2030 and prided itself on supporting strong climate action.
By then, I had been an activist for coal divestment, researched fossil fuel extraction, pushed for local climate change legislation, and attended enough UN climate talks to know one thing: climate change was threatening the fulfillment of human rights around the world and we were not doing nearly enough to stop it.
That was also when I learned that despite the slow progress at the climate negotiations and the failure of governments to advance their plans to tackle emissions and adapt to a warming world, climate advocates were turning to a new strategy: climate litigation.
This is why I decided to join 24 other young Colombians in suing the national government for failing to curb deforestation in the Amazon region.
Today, cattle ranching, the expansion of the agricultural frontier, and mining are driving the destruction of our forest. The most recent data shows that deforestation increased by 44 percent in 2016, which is equal to 178,597 acres of forest loss.
With Dejusticia’s support, we are arguing that deforestation is violating our constitutional right to a healthy environment, which in turn threatens our right to water, food, and health.
As we began developing the lawsuit, we learned about the intrinsic connections between the Amazon and the water cycle that supplies the rest of the nation. We learned about how deforesting one area could have a significant impact thousands of kilometers away. We learned that,according to official projections, we could expect a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius by the year 2070.
The more we read and studied about climate impacts in Colombia, the clearer the sense of urgency we felt.
We realized we had to ask the government to back its international rhetoric on deforestation with concrete and effective actions on the ground. Not only is the destruction of forests the greatest source behind Colombia’s greenhouse gas emissions, but it is also a threat to local ecosystems and the people that depend on them for their livelihoods.
But our petitions do not end there. We are also asking that the government creates an inter-generational agreement on climate change, outlining the measures that the government will adopt to reduce deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. We ask that this document also includes the adaptation and mitigation strategies each vulnerable municipality in the country will implement.
What I find most exciting about the prospect of a court ruling in our favor is that our case is not an exception, but part of a broader movement seeking justice through climate change litigation. The climate movement is evolving and, as we increase pressure on governments to act on climate, we diversify our toolkit and strategies to demand social change.
We hope that our lawsuit can help inform and shape public debates, calling attention to the monumental crisis the planet is facing.
I am proud of being one the the plaintiffs behind this lawsuit. I am proud of being part of a generation that refuses to sit in silence.
Published on Thomson Reuters Foundation News on January 31, 2018
During the World Economic Forum in Davos the French President Emmanuel Macron announced that all the country’s coal-fired plants will shut down by 2021- 2 years earlier than initially planned.
The initial pledge had been made by Mr. Macron’s predecessor Francois Hollande in November 2016 during COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco. There, he pledged to decommission all France’s coal plants by 2023 and he also vowed to make France carbon neutral by 2050.
President Macron accelerated the timetable for the country’s coal phase out as he has committed to making France a model in the fight against climate change.
He also strongly advocated for the advantages and the economic benefits climate action is offering, as, for example, coal plants are not only an environmental burden from the moment that clean energy technologies are evidently more cost competitive.
According to a recent report from the Carbon Tracker, a London-based think tank on the impact of climate change to the financial markets, more than 50 percent of the European Union’s 619 coal-fired plants are losing money- a figure set to rise to 97 percent by 2030.
Rapidly falling renewable energy costs, stricter air pollution regulations and higher carbon prices are some of the reasons fossil fuels are increasingly outpriced by clean energy technologies.
France is only approximately 1 percent energy dependent from coal-fired stations. However, the French president seeks to send a strong signal about the country’s determination to become a climate leader. This is particularly directed towards US president Donald Trump, who strives to revive the United States’ coal industry, and withdrew the country from the Paris Agreement.
The French president also called for the EU to set a stable carbon price which will send the right signals to the energy market.
In regards to his meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping, President Macron saluted the country’s commitment to the fight against climate change. In a comment about the gigantic infrastructure project aiming to connect China with the European continent, he noted: “The new Silk Road has to be a green road. We cannot have a coal-based route”.
Published on Climate Action Programme on January 29, 2018
Human Rights Watch will launch a billboard and online campaign on January 19, 2018, to end the waste management crisis in Lebanon, Human Rights Watch said today. The campaign calls for an end to the dangerous practice of open burning of waste and for parliament and the cabinet to adopt a national waste management law and strategy that cover the entire country and comply with environmental and public health best practices and international law. The petition is online here.
In December 2017, Human Rights Watch issued a 67-page report, “‘As If You’re Inhaling Your Death’: The Health Risks of Burning Waste in Lebanon,” finding that authorities’ lack of action to end open burning of waste across Lebanon is posing serious health risks for nearby residents, violating their right to health under international law. Children and older people are at particular risk. Open burning of waste is a dangerous and avoidable consequence of the government’s decades-long failure to manage solid waste in a way that respects environmental and health laws designed to protect people.
“Through this campaign we want to raise awareness about the ongoing danger open burning poses to families across Lebanon, and of the need for urgent action to stop open burning and adopt a sustainable long-term strategy,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Open burning is one symptom of the larger waste management crisis in Lebanon and is a serious threat to public health.”
On January 9, the health minister ordered the inspection of open dumps across Lebanon for violations, stressing the prohibition on open burning. On January 11, the cabinet approved a waste management plan, presented by the Environment Ministry, that outlines a decentralized waste management system; stresses reduction, sorting, and recycling; and calls for gradually closing and rehabilitating open dumps. The Environment Ministry is developing a detailed national strategy on the basis of this plan.
Lebanon does not have a solid waste management law or strategy for the entire country. In the 1990s, the central government arranged for waste collection and disposal in Beirut and Mount Lebanon but left other municipalities to fend for themselves without adequate oversight, financial support, or technical expertise. As a result, dumping flourished across the country, with open burning of waste taking place at 150 dumps every week according to the Environment Ministry. The open burning disproportionately takes place in lower income areas, Human Rights Watch found.
Lebanon’s cabinet approved a draft law in 2012 that would create a single Solid Waste Management Board, headed by the Environment Ministry, responsible for national-level decision-making and waste treatment, while leaving waste collection to local authorities. However, parliament has not passed the bill. The joint committees of parliament considered an amended draft of that law on January 9, and returned it to the environment committee for further amendments.
The Environment Ministry says that open burning violates Lebanon’s own environmental protection laws. The government’s lack of effective action to address the issue also violates Lebanon’s obligations under international law, including the government’s duties to respect, protect, and fulfill the right to health. Human Rights Watch found that the Environment Ministry lacks the necessary personnel and financial resources for effective environmental monitoring.
According to researchers at the American University of Beirut, 77 percent of Lebanon’s waste is either openly dumped or sent to landfills even though they estimate that more than 80 percent could be composted or recycled.
Recent discussions around a long-term plan for waste management in Lebanon have focused on the use of incineration plants. Human Rights Watch does not take a position on the particular waste management approach that Lebanon should pursue so long as it complies with environmental and public health best practices and international law. But some public health experts and activists in Lebanon have opposed the use of incineration, citing concerns about independent monitoring, potential emissions, and high costs.
The public campaign launched today was made possible by generous support from Pikasso.
“Although the government moved the garbage off the streets of Beirut, the more than 900 open dumps across the country continue to pose environmental health risks,” Fakih said. “The government needs to show leadership on this issue and put in place a solution that respects people’s right to health.”
Published on HRW on January 19, 2018.
The UK government has unveiled its new 25 year environmental plan today, in which it commits to removing all ‘avoidable’ plastic waste.
Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced the new policy in a speech in London, saying: "I think people will be shocked at how today we allow so much plastic to be produced needlessly”.
“In the UK alone, the amount of single-use plastic wasted every year would fill 1,000 Royal Albert Halls".
She announced an extension to the current 5p plastic bag charge to small retailers and government will work with larger supermarkets to introduce plastic-free aisles. Single-use plastics will also be removed from the government estate. The current plastic bag charge has seen a successful 85% reduction in England since its introduction in 2015.
The environmental plan seeks to address a number of key areas over the next 25 years. These include: clean air and water, minimising waste, mitigating against climate change, and enhancing the natural environment. The government announced earlier this week a plan to create a new 120-mile stretch of forest in the north of England.
Other policies in the plan include supporting farmers to turn fields into habitats for wildlife, creating 500,000 hectares of new habitat for endangered species and extending the UK’s network of marine protected areas.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “Respecting nature’s intrinsic value and making sure we are wise stewards of our natural world is critical if we are to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it.
Through this plan we will build on our reputation as a global leader in environmental protection, creating an environment everyone can enjoy and helping the next generation flourish”.
Greenpeace UK responded by saying that there wasn’t enough in the plan to meet the pressing environmental challenges right now. Executive Director, John Sauven, said: “Britain’s natural environment needs a 25-month emergency plan more than it needs a 25-year vision. If the government’s aim is to get through to young voters, they need to offer change that happens before these youths turn middle age. They should start by rolling out more robust and swift measures to stop plastic waste harming our oceans, clean up illegal air pollution and support the clean energy sources that can help stop climate change”.
Friends of the Earth’s Chief Executive, Craig Bennett, also said progress was needed sooner rather than later, commenting: “A long-term vison for protecting our environment is essential, but the government can’t keep turning a blind eye to the urgent action needed now to protect our health and planet from toxic air and climate-wrecking pollution.
He added: “25 years is a long way off – particularly for a government that might not last 25 weeks. We need action now”
Published on Climate Action Programme on January 11, 2018
China has recently signed a memorandum of understanding to investigate the impacts of climate change in central Asia.
The agreement was signed by the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography and 22 scientific research institutes from around the world, including the US, Belgium and Austria. The focus of the research will be on the effects of climate change on the region’s glaciers, water resources and agriculture.
The first phase of the research was conducted in 2012 between China and four other central Asian countries. This latest phase enlists cooperation from research organisations from around the globe.
The move is the latest step in China’s increased international role in tackling climate change, seen by some as a challenge to the leadership gap left when the United States announced it would withdraw from the landmark Paris climate agreement.
Last year, China signed agreements with both Canada and the State of California to cooperate closer on taking stronger climate action.
Canada signed a joint statement in December which committed both countries to leading the transition to a low-carbon economy and recognised that the environment and the economy go hand-in-hand.
At the time, Canada’s Environment Minister, Catherine McKenna, said: “Canada and China have a longstanding history of collaboration on the environment and climate change. We're building on that relationship with the historic joint statement committing our two countries to champion progress on climate change and clean growth internationally and at home”.
Published on Climate Action Programme on January 3, 2018
By STANLEY REED
A Danish biotechnology company is trying to fight climate change — one laundry load at a time. Its secret weapon: mushrooms like those in a dormant forest outside Copenhagen.
In the quest for a more environmentally friendly detergent, two scientists at the company, Novozymes, regularly trudge through the mud, hunting for oyster mushrooms that protrude from a fallen beech or bracken fungi that feast on tough plant fibers. They are studying the enzymes in mushrooms that speed up chemical reactions or natural processes like decay.
“There is a lot going on here, if you know what to look for,” said Mikako Sasa, one of the Novozymes scientists.
Their work is helping the company develop enzymes for laundry and dishwasher detergents that would require less water, or that would work just as effectively at lower temperatures. The energy savings could be significant. Washing machines, for instance, account for over 6 percent of household electricity use in the European Union.
Enlisting enzymes to battle dirt is not a new strategy. Over thousands of years, mushrooms and their fungi cousins have evolved into masters at nourishing themselves on dying trees, fallen branches and other materials. They break down these difficult materials by secreting enzymes into their hosts. Even before anyone knew what enzymes were, they were used in brewing and cheese making, among other activities.
In 1833, French scientists isolated an enzyme for the first time. Known as diastase, it broke starch down into sugars. By the early 20th century, a German chemist had commercialized the technology, selling a detergent that included enzymes extracted from the guts of cows.
Novozymes and its rivals have developed a catalog of enzymes over the years, supplying them to consumer goods giants like Unilever and Procter & Gamble.
At the company’s low-slung 1960s-style campus, scientists in white lab coats and armed with miniature washing machines test new enzyme combinations on doll-size cutouts of clothing. To test a product’s stain-fighting prowess, they import stain samples from around the world, like greasy, blackened collars and yellow armpit stains.
Modern detergents contain as many as eight different enzymes. In 2016, Novozymes generated about $2.2 billion in revenue and provided enzymes for detergents including Tide, Ariel and Seventh Generation.
The quantity of enzymes required in a detergent is relatively small compared with chemical alternatives, an appealing quality for customers looking for more natural ingredients. A tenth of a teaspoon of enzymes in a typical European laundry load cuts by half the amount of soap from petrochemicals or palm oil in a detergent.
Enzymes are also well suited to helping cut energy consumption. They are often found in relatively cool environments, like forests and oceans. As a result of that low natural temperature, they do not require the heat and pressure typically used in washing machines and other laundry processes.
So consumers can reduce the temperatures on their washing machines while ensuring their shirts stay lily white. Lowering the temperature on a washing machine cycle to cold water from 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) reduces energy consumption by at least half, according to the International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products, an industry group.
“We think there are a lot of systems and processes in nature that are extremely resource efficient,” said Gerard Bos, director of the global business and biodiversity program at the International Union for Conservation of Nature in Switzerland. “In nature, there is basically no waste. Every material gets reused.”
In 2009, Novozymes scientists teamed up with Procter & Gamble to develop an enzyme that could be used in liquid detergents for cold-water washes. Researchers started with an enzyme from soil bacteria in Turkey, and modified it through genetic engineering to make it more closely resemble a substance found in cool seawater. When they found the right formula, they called the enzyme Everest, a reference to the scale of the task accomplished.
“We knew this was something that consumers would want,” said Phil Souter, associate director of Procter & Gamble’s research and development unit in Newcastle, England. “I think this is a very tangible and practical way people can make a difference in their everyday lives.”
Next, they found a way to mass produce the enzyme. Novozymes implanted the newly developed product’s DNA into a batch of microbial hosts used to cultivate large volumes of enzymes quickly and at low cost. The enzymes were then “brewed” in large, closely monitored tanks before being sold.
The result: a crucial ingredient in detergents like Tide Cold Water.
“This is biotechnology on a very large scale,” said Jes Bo Tobiassen, the manager of a Novozymes manufacturing facility in Kalundborg, a small coastal city in Denmark.
As it researches new enzymes, Novozymes is trying to reach consumers in fast-growing economies, like China.
In much of the developed world, laundry habits are relatively entrenched. Europeans tend to use front-loading washers, which are far more efficient in energy and water use than the top-loaders favored in the United States.
But in China, members of the growing middle class like Shen Hang are upgrading washing machines and turning to more expensive, higher-quality detergents. While Chinese consumers are among the world’s most frequent and fastidious washers of clothes, according to Novozymes researchers, they aren’t as set in their ways.
Mr. Shen recently bought an efficient front-loading washer-dryer. But he has struggled to find a detergent that can get his sweat-stained shirt collars clean.
“I’m kind of sick of that,” he said of manufacturers’ exaggerated claims.
He uses two types of bleach, one for white clothes and one for colored. If they do not work, he manually rubs the stains with his hands. He repeats that cycle three times a week.
Sensing an opportunity, Novozymes’s commercial teams have pushed the company’s scientists to create enzymes that would perform better in the bleach-filled washes favored in China.
The company has made progress. A newly developed enzyme named Progress Uno is being added to liquid detergents manufactured by Liby, a Chinese company.
At this point, Chinese consumers mostly wash at low temperatures. But Peder Holk Nielsen, the chief executive of Novozymes, worries that could change as wealth in China grows. Consumers did the same in the West in the decades after World War II, Mr. Nielsen said.
But if, thanks to enzyme development, that transition can be avoided, that would be “a phenomenal sustainability story,” he said. “It is going to save so much water, and so much energy.”
Published on The NY Times on January 1, 2018
By Hilda Heine
The women of the Marshall Islands and the Pacific have been fighting colonialism and injustice for a long time. They bore the brunt of the long term effects of nuclear testing, and women leaders like Lijon Eknilang and Darlene Keju-Johnson brought these issues to the international stage.
For women, fighting for justice – including climate justice – can be downright dangerous. Last year was one of the deadliest for women fighting on the frontlines for human rights and environmental justice. Environmental defenders are being killed at the rate of almost four a week across the world, a staggering toll that disproportionately affects female activists and indigenous leaders. Among the most high-profile cases was Honduran indigenous Lenca leader Berta Cáceres, who was murdered in 2016. And for every woman like Cáceres who is killed, dozens of others are threatened with violence or destruction of their home or village or vital resources.
Yet despite this perilous landscape, where corporations and even the governments who are in their pocket threaten life itself, these women continue to stand up for freedom of expression and participation, for land rights and the rights of indigenous and rural communities. For sexual and reproductive health and rights, against harassment and gender-based discrimination. And for the right to preserve a safe, liveable environment for present and future generations.
At the UN climate talks in Bonn, the cause of these courageous women is being amplified by a host of organisations working on gender and climate justice issues through the Women and Gender Constituency. Together they are working to raise awareness of the work already done by women on the ground to combat climate change, and also, critically, how climate policies should address their specific needs and responsibilities and ensure the realisation of their rights.
The tragic reality of gender and climate is that women, especially women of colour, are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change, but are far less likely to be empowered to cope because they have fewer resources such as power and access to finance and technology. A multitude of structural barriers means they are far less likely to take up position of political power and decision-making.
Yet, when it comes to solutions — from large-scale mitigation efforts to focused, local resiliency responses — the gender perspective is often lacking, and the particular rights and needs of women are overlooked or downgraded in importance. Women aren’t making enough of the decisions, and the decisions aren’t yet doing enough for women.
Consider the issue of climate finance, where developed countries that have accumulated wealth through the combustion of fossil fuels have pledged aid to developing countries to be spent on climate solutions. In choosing actions to fund, financiers too often default to large, centralised projects, looking more at emissions data and financial rates of return than at social and human impacts. Making climate finance more gender-responsive would help address the specific needs and responsibilities of women, and channel funding to smaller scale projects that benefit women.
Ultimately, putting more decision-making in the hands of local communities, including indigenous women is the clearest path to ensuring a just climate response. A more democratised energy system based on 100% renewables allows for the input from women and promotion of their rights more than a fossil fuel-based economy run by and for the benefit of unaccountable corporations. One such system could be constructed of energy cooperatives, which are community-based and democratically run, helping to ensure equal access to affordable and sustainable energy.
In August 2017, my government organised a major international conference in the Marshall Islands bringing together female leaders from the Pacific. Our experiences and conclusions concurred with the findings of many studies on women’s role in promoting development. Women are key activists protecting vital common resources, and at the forefront of developing local climate solutions respecting and incorporating traditional knowledge. Women consistently show ingenuity, creativity, and drive. While women and girls still bear the heaviest burden of climate change’s impacts — and while women continue to be threatened with harassment and violence, they continue to speak up to defend our waters, our trees, our soil, and our atmosphere. They have proven to be the most effective agents of change.
This week at COP23, all governments must reach an agreement that will ensure enough climate ambition to stay below a global warming of 1.5C. To make sure that all climate action will include gender equality, the governments will agree on a Gender Action Plan. In the next two years, the plan will aim to increase the number of female climate decision-makers, train male and female policymakers on bringing gender equality into climate funding programmes, and engage grassroots and indigenous women’s organisations for local and global climate action.
Published on The Guardian on November 15, 2017.
Fiji has become the first emerging market to issue a sovereign green bond after it raised 100 million Fijian dollars to finance climate mitigation and adaptation projects.
At the request of Fiji’s Reserve Bank, the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) provided technical assistance to support the Government in issuing their first sovereign green bond.
Sustainalytics US, an environmental consultancy, evaluated Fiji’s Sovereign’s green bond transaction and its alignment with the Green Bond Principles.
The green bond will primarily be used for climate resilience, but also on renewable energy projects supporting the nation’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions from the energy sector by 30 percent by 2030.
The bond has two maturity dates with a tenure of 5 years and 13 years.
The shorter tenure bond has a coupon rate,- the yield the bond paid on its issue date, of 4.00 percent while the longer duration bond will have a coupon rate of 6.30 percent, which is highly attractive given the coupon rate for the French bonds was just 1.75 percent.
The green bond was issued under the broader, three-year Capital Markets Development Project supported by the Australian Government, where Australia and IFC support the stimulation of the private sector to promote sustainable economic growth and reduce poverty in the Pacific.
Frank Bainimarama, Fijian Prime Minister and President of COP23 said: “The Fijian people, along with every Pacific Islander, live on the front lines of climate change”.
“I have made access to climate finance a key pillar of our upcoming COP23 Presidency, and we are proud to set an example to other climate-vulnerable nations by issuing this green bond to fund our work to boost climate resilience across Fiji”.
“By issuing the first emerging country green bond, we are also sending a clear signal to other nations that we can be creative and innovative in mobilizing funds and create win-win outcomes for countries and investors in adapting to the serious effects of climate change”.
Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group President said: “With this bond, Fiji has demonstrated that green capital markets can be created in emerging economies and that all countries, big and small, have an important role to play in facilitating climate solutions”.
“As it takes the helm of COP23, Fiji is uniquely positioned to inspire other countries to meet their respective targets and build resilience against climate change”.
Fiji constitutes 300 volcanic islands that includes low-lying atolls that are highly exposed to cyclones, while the nation is also highly vulnerable to the impact of climate change with 20 percent of the region’s people at risk of migration by 2050.
Fiji’s sovereign green bond was the third to be issued globally, with Poland’s €750 million bond in December 2016 being the first, followed by a €7 billion issuance from France in January 2017.
According to the World Bank, the green bond market is expected to reach $134.9 billion in 2017.
The Government of Fiji will chair COP23 in Bonn, Germany, from November 6-17.
Published on Climate Action Programme on October 30, 2017.
Lumos Energy, a Canadian clean energy advisor to indigenous communities released a new report where it found that clean energy projects with participation from indigenous communities have steeply increased during the past 10 years.
The “Powering Reconciliation: a Survey of Indigenous Participation in Canada’s Growing Clean Energy Economy” report explains that in 2008 there were 26 recorded energy projects developed with indigenous communities engagement, whereas the number has now increased to 152.
The number represents medium utility scale over 1MW projects, but there are also 1,200 small projects across Canada.
63 percent of these projects are hydro and 24 percent wind projects.
According to the research, the number of power projects accounts for nearly one-fifth of Canada’s overall electricity production infrastructure and is enough to power 7.5-9.5 million households.
Communities were involved in these projects in various ways, as owners or partners, or by having Impact Benefit Agreements, lease agreements, revenue sharing agreements with project developers.
Building these projects generated $842 million in employment income for the communities, from direct employment opportunities such as construction workers, environmental monitors, site security etc.
In addition, the investments and agreements made by communities are also yielding significant returns for the communities.
The return on investment, after the debt is paid out, is estimated to be more than $167 million per year and over the next 15 years, total profits will be around $2.5 billion.
The experience gained by community members allowed them to find permanent careers working on power projects in different regions.
This new revenue stream from communities has helped them become more self-reliant, leveraging these funds towards education, healthcare, elder facilities etc.
Chief Jim Leonard of Rainy River First Nation, which fully owns a 25MW solar farm in Thunder Bay said that “solar is powering a more socially and economically stable future for our people”.
Chief Gordon Planes of T’Sou-ke First Nation said: “For the T’Sou-ke Nation, renewable energy projects have been central to our culture, and created jobs for our young people”.
Most importantly, these power projects are considered powerful steps towards reconciliation with indigenous communities as project partnerships often represent a recognition and respect for indigenous rights and territory.
Lumos Energy project that over the next years, Canada’s energy transition will open vast new opportunities for new renewable energy projects but also for electric vehicles and smart grids too.
You can read the full 16-page “Powering Reconciliation: a Survey of Indigenous Participation in Canada’s Growing Clean Energy Economy” here.
Published on Climate Action Programme on October 25, 2017.
Human rights and environment
In recent years, the recognition of the links between human rights and the environment has greatly increased. The number and scope of international and domestic laws, judicial decisions, and academic studies on the relationship between human rights and the environment have grown rapidly.
Many States now incorporate a right to a healthy environment in their constitutions. Many questions about the relationship of human rights and the environment remain unresolved, however, and require further examination.
As a result, in March 2012 the Human Rights Council decided to establish a mandate on human rights and the environment, which will (among other tasks) study the human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, and promote best practices relating to the use of human rights in environmental policymaking.
Mr. John Knox was appointed in August 2012 to a three-year term as the first Independent Expert on human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. His mandate was further extended in March 2015 for another three years as a Special Rapporteur.
The resolution 16/11 adopted by the Human Rights Council on 12th of April 2011 entitled “Human Rights and the environment” requested the Office of the High Commissioner “in consultation with and taking into account the views of States Members of the United Nations, relevant international organizations and intergovernmental bodies, including the United Nations Environment Programme and relevant multilateral environmental agreements, special procedures, treaty bodies and other stakeholders, to conduct, within existing resources, a detailed analytical study on the relationship between human rights and the environment” (para.1).
See also the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes
Human rights and climate change
In its 5th Assessment Report (2014), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) unequivocally confirmed that climate change is real and that human-made greenhouse gas emissions are its primary cause. The report identified the increasing frequency of extreme weather events and natural disasters, rising sea-levels, floods, heat waves, droughts, desertification, water shortages, and the spread of tropical and vector-borne diseases as some of the adverse impacts of climate change. These phenomena directly and indirectly threaten the full and effective enjoyment of a range of human rights by people throughout the world, including the rights to life, water and sanitation, food, health, housing, self-determination, culture and development.