ABSTRACT

In failing to tackle climate change with urgency, rich countries are effectively violating the human rights of millions of the world’s poorest people. Excessive greenhouse-gas emissions are–with scientific certainty–leading to floods, droughts, hurricanes, sea-level rise, and seasonal unpredictability. Human-rights principles must be put at the heart of international climate-change policy making now, in order to stop the irreversible damage to humanity’s future. Climate change is set to undermine human rights on a massive scale. Economics–which influences many climate-policy debates–approaches decision making by weighing up competing costs and benefits. Creative human-rights lawyers could push to have courts recognize future injury, and joint liability. They could likewise seek to clarify and activate international legal obligations, and call for an international venue where people whose rights are effectively being violated by other countries’ emissions can seek some form of redress.