• February 16th, 2020

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According to the U.N.'s Human Rights Council, the climate change menace the human rights and jeopardise the last 50 years of advancements in development, global health, and poverty reduction.

In this article we present the main highlights of the full report.

Which is the status quo?

Hereafter follow some of the facts presented in the report: 

1. Carbon is being added to the atmosphere 100 times faster than ever before. 

2. More damage has been done in the last three decades, since 1988, than in the whole human history. 

3. The last five years have been the hottest in the modern record. 

4. Global energy consumption is estimated to increase a 28% between 2015 and 2040. 

5. In relation to pre-industrial levels, global warming has already increased 1ºC. The goal established at the 2015 Paris Agreement is to limit the global warming at 2ºC by 2100, attempting to keep it at 1,5ºC. The scale of change needed to reach the best case scenario of +1,5ºC by 2100 is unprecedented, and even in that situation, the consequences are expected to be severe. 

What can be done to combat climate change?

According to the report, the path to transformation passes by four main points: 

1. Understanding the failure to act. Governments have not led meaningful action and still today some countries are walking towards the wrong direction. Corporate actors, specially fossil fuel companies, have not adapted their business models towards a more eco-friendly and sustainable one. From 1988 to 2015, fossil fuel companies produced the same amount of emissions that in the previous 237 years. During that time, just 100 companies produced the 71% of global greenhouse gas emissions. 

2. The need for economic transformation. Global warming is expected to decrease average global incomes about 23% by 2100 and increase income inequality. A 40% of the global employment relies on a healthy environment and heat stress is expected to shorten the workday-hours in a 2% by 2030. Economic prosperity and decent work needs to be decoupled from fossil fuel emissions. The private sector play a key role in implementing solutions to climate change, but an over-reliance could lead to an scenario in which the rich pay to avoid conflict and hunger while the poor are left to suffer. 

3. Societal transformation. Climate change requires structural changes in the world economy. Job losses in the carbon-intensive sectors will be covered by new and better positions required to limit global warming. 

4. Transforming the international human rights regime. Climate change is an emergency and requires confident, creative and eager to take risk thinking from the human rights community, including human rights as part of the solution. Apart from the impact on human rights, it is important to acknowledge the threats to democracy and civil and political rights, revitalise economic and social rights (people access to food, water or services might be threatened), take regulatory responsibility (governments need to implement a transformative programme) and rethinking human rights responses. 

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