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Report: Human Rights implications of climate change mitigation actions

Executive Summary

This is a crucial moment in Paris. As global negotiations on a climate change agreement shape the future of our planet, Parties can decide on an approach that will protect people and the planet in the near and long term.

Countries’ obligations under international human rights law are well established. These include the obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights, and are applicable to climate change, and to private actors, public and private.

Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have recognized that they should fully respect human rights in all climate-related actions, and, at the time they negotiated the 1992 UNFCCC in Rio de Janeiro, principles of public participation and sustainable development were at the forefront of their minds, as embodied in the Rio Declaration of the same conference. Since then, the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP), the UN Human Rights Council, and other bodies have helped to further develop and clarify the legal obligations related to climate change.

Yet, as this policy brief demonstrates by discussing the applicable law and UNFCCC-related case studies, the realization of these obligations has not fully materialized through implementation of the UNFCCC.

This policy brief highlights the opportunity to learn from these positive and negative outcomes of UNFCCC-related projects and actions, and to ensure the Paris outcome is robust, consistent with human rights obligations, and a reflection of the mindset of the UNFCCC drafters’ commitment to sustainable development and public participation.

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