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International human rights day adds pressure to implement safeguards in carbon markets

HR -Protect Human Rights in all climate actionsAt the occasion of the international human rights day on 10 December 2014, the need to protect human rights in all climate actions will be high up on the agenda in Lima. The clock is ticking for delegates to put in place a robust institutional safeguards system for existing and new carbon markets to protect the people most vulnerable to climate change.

Against the ample evidence of actions against climate change that have caused adverse impacts, including human rights violations, the need for a human rights based approach has increasingly gained momentum over the past years. In practical terms, a human rights-based approach can be used to guide policies and measures of climate change mitigation and adaptation. It can inform assessments, and strengthen processes, ensuring access to essential information, effective participation, and the provision of access to justice.

Recognising this, the Cancun Decision established that “Parties should, in all climate change-related actions, fully respect human rights”. In order to swiftly implement this decision, 27 UN Special Procedures have reiterated the need for a human rights based approach and have called on Parties for a new climate agreement that effectively protects human rights for all. They have called to launch a work program to ensure that human rights are integrated into all aspects of climate actions.

Yet, existing climate mitigation mechanisms under the UNFCCC lack the human rights legal framework and approach in their processes. For example, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) does not have environmental, social and human rights safeguard policies in place. It also lacks monitoring standards and robust public participation policies and has increasingly come under pressure over decisions to register CDM projects despite evidence of human rights abuses.

The new global climate agreement to be decided in Paris next year provides an opportunity to establish a human rights based approach for all future carbon market related activities. The upcoming climate conference in Lima should therefore make human rights a priority when reviewing the existing rules and during the negotiations on a global carbon market under the Framework for Various Approaches.

Building on the experience with the implementation of CDM projects, Carbon Market Watch will be organising several events, including an official side event on 2 December to discuss with experts how  the CDM and other UNFCCC processes can be improved to ensure that human rights, environmental, social and cultural values are all respected and implemented in carbon markets.

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