Climate Change Mitigation as an Obligation under Human Rights Treaties?

115(3) American Journal of International Law 409-451 (2021)

43 Pages Posted: 6 May 2022

See all articles by Benoit Mayer

Benoit Mayer

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) - Faculty of Law

Date Written: April 18, 2021

Abstract

Judges and scholars have interpreted human rights treaties as obligating states to mitigate climate change by limiting their greenhouse gas emissions, an argument instrumental to the development of climate litigation. This Article questions the validity of this interpretation. A state’s treaty obligation to protect human rights implies an obligation to cooperate on the mitigation of climate change, the Article argues, only if and inasmuch as climate change mitigation effectively protects the enjoyment of treaty rights by individuals within the state’s territory or under its jurisdiction. As such, human rights treaties open only a narrow window on the applicability of general mitigation obligations arising under climate treaties and customary international law.

Keywords: climate change, mitigation, human rights, litigation

Suggested Citation

Mayer, Benoit, Climate Change Mitigation as an Obligation under Human Rights Treaties? (April 18, 2021). 115(3) American Journal of International Law 409-451 (2021), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4086731

Benoit Mayer (Contact Author)

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) - Faculty of Law ( email )

6/F, Lee Shau Kee Building
Shatin, New Territories
Hong Kong

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