COP26 in Glasgow should be a pivotal human rights summit

Published by Brent Patterson on

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The United Nations COP25 summit concluded this weekend with little progress.

The Guardian reports, “Global climate talks have ended in Madrid with a partial agreement to ask countries to come up with more ambitious targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions, to fulfil the terms of the 2015 Paris accord.”

That article adds, “Few countries came to this year’s talks with updated plans to reach the Paris goals [but] experts say more ambitious emissions cuts are needed globally if the Paris pledge to hold global heating to no more than 2C – the upper limit of safety – is to be met.”

That article then highlights, “In Glasgow early next November, countries will meet again with the aim of strengthening their commitments on emissions cuts under the Paris accord.”

Reuters further explains, “The [Paris] agreement enters a crucial implementation phase in 2020, when countries are supposed to ratchet up their ambitions ahead of the next major round of talks in Glasgow.”

The Associated Press cautions, “So far, the world is on course for a 3- to 4-degree Celsius rise, with potentially dramatic consequences for many countries.”

The climate crisis is a human rights crisis

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has stated, “We call on leaders and governments to recognise that climate change and environmental degradation severely undermine the human rights of their people.”

The UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights Philip Alston has warned, “Human rights might not survive the coming upheaval.”

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has noted, “Women commonly face higher risks and greater burdens from the impacts of climate change in situations of poverty, and the majority of the world’s poor are women.”

Greenpeace has highlighted, “So many of our human rights, such as right to life, health, food, and an adequate standard of living, are adversely affected by climate change.” The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights also notes that the human right to adequate housing and the human right to water as threatened.

And IPS reports, “Currently, forecasts vary from 25 million to 1 billion environmental migrants by 2050, moving either within their countries or across borders, on a permanent or temporary basis, with 200 million being the most widely cited estimate.”

Without deeper cuts to carbon emission – and stronger protections for the human rights defenders who challenge harmful megaprojects at the local level – climate change will continue to devastate people and the planet, and human rights will continue to be violated.

COP26 will take place from November 9 to 19 in Glasgow, Scotland.

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