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A ‘Burning Opportunity’ for Human Rights: Using Human Rights as a Catalyst for Policies to Mitigate the Health Risk of Household Air Pollution

Journal of Human Rights and the Environment (Forthcoming)

15 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2017  

Benjamin Mason Meier

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Ipsita Das

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill

Pamela Jagger

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill

Date Written: June 27, 2017

Abstract

With over 3 billion people dependent on traditional cooking and heating technologies, efforts to address the health burden of exposure to household air pollution (HAP), as well as other sociodemographic impacts associated with energy poverty, are central to sustainable development objectives. Yet despite overwhelming scientific consensus on the health burden of HAP exposure, particularly harms to impoverished women and children in developing countries, advocates currently lack a human rights framework to mitigate HAP exposure through improved access to cleaner household energy systems. This article examines the role of human rights in framing state obligations to mitigate HAP exposure, supporting environmental health for the most vulnerable through intersectional obligations across the human right to health, the collective right to development, and women’s and children’s rights. Drawing from human rights advocacy employed in confronting the public health harms of tobacco, we argue that rights-based civil society advocacy can structure the multi-sectoral policies necessary to address the impacts of HAP exposure and energy poverty, facilitating accountability for human rights implementation through international treaty bodies, national judicial challenges, and local political advocacy. We conclude that there is a pressing need to build civil society capacity for a rights-based approach to cleaner household energy policy as a means to address the environmental health effects of energy poverty.

Keywords: human rights, household air pollution, energy poverty, environmental health, sustainable development, public policy

Suggested Citation

Meier, Benjamin Mason and Das, Ipsita and Jagger, Pamela, A ‘Burning Opportunity’ for Human Rights: Using Human Rights as a Catalyst for Policies to Mitigate the Health Risk of Household Air Pollution (June 27, 2017). Journal of Human Rights and the Environment (Forthcoming). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2993325

Benjamin Meier (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ( email )

CB 3435
103 Abernethy Hall
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
United States
919-962-0542 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://bmeier.web.unc.edu/

Ipsita Das

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill ( email )

102 Ridge Road
Chapel Hill, NC NC 27514
United States

Pamela Jagger

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill ( email )

102 Ridge Road
Chapel Hill, NC NC 27514
United States

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