Integrating Human Rights in Climate Governance: An Introduction
S. Duyck, S. Jodoin & A. Johl (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Human Rights and Climate Governance, (Abingdon-on-Thames: Routledge, Forthcoming)
17 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2017
Date Written: September 1, 2017
Over the last decade, legal scholars and institutions have increasingly grappled with the complex linkages emerging between efforts to combat climate change and to protect human rights around the world. While the interplay between climate change and legal obligations related to the protection of human rights is now very well established, many important gaps remain in understanding how human rights can be used in practice to develop and implement effective and equitable solutions to climate change at multiple levels of governance. The Routledge Handbook of Human Rights and Climate Governance seeks to address some of the questions by bringing together the expertise and perspective of a broad range of scholars and practitioners directly involved in climate governance and the national or international level.
This introduction to the Routledge Handbook of Human Rights and Climate Governance begins by providing a historical overview of the emergence of human rights in the field of global climate governance – reflecting on parallel developments occurring in the context of human rights institutions. While many perceived the inclusion of a reference to human rights in the Paris Agreement as an important breakthrough, this development is the outcome of two decades of experiences and advocacy regarding the relevance of human rights in the regime established under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
We then identify some of the key themes about the relationship between human rights and climate change that recur throughout the book. Several chapters explore how the direct adverse impacts of climate change on human rights differ among specific communities and groups – depending on their geographic location or social characteristics. These chapters emphasise that climate policies must take these specificities into consideration in order to protect effectively the human rights of all people.
Most of the contributions to the book tackle the issue of state responsibility for the protection of human rights in the context of climate change, reviewing the multiple implications of these obligations for national policies. First and foremost, states bear the responsibility of reducing carbon emissions in order to prevent further adverse impacts. In this context, human rights norms can inform the allocation of responsibility taking into account the inequitable distribution of resources and burdens. But governments must also ensure that responses to climate change do not result in infringements of the rights of local communities and indigenous peoples. Finally, another key theme that is found in many chapters relates to an interest in exploring the role of human rights in the broader domain of climate governance – including in the context of transnational governance and in relation to corporate responsibility.
The chapter concludes with the identification of five outstanding questions for scholars writing about human rights and climate change and summarizing key issues and implications for advocacy and policy-making in the future.
Keywords: climate, human rights, environmental justice, unfccc, paris agreement, climate justice, equity, litigation
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