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 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.