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
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.