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Council discusses measures that can be adopted by States in addressing the effects of climate change on Human Rights

Human Rights Council
MORNING

6 March 2015

Opens Annual Discussion on Human Rights and Climate Change

The Human Rights Council this morning opened its full-day annual discussion on human rights and climate change, holding a panel discussion that explored challenges and ways forward towards the realization of human rights for all, including the right to development, in particular those in vulnerable situations, as well as measures and best practices that can be adopted by States in addressing the adverse effects of climate change on the full and effective enjoyment of human rights.

The President of the Human Rights Council, Joachim Rücker, in his introductory remarks, said that this year, the world was at a crossroads: in a few months’ time, the new agreement on climate change would be crafted, which would determine the course vis-à-vis the future of not only their environment, but also their societies. 

Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General, in a video message to the Council, said that it was time for climate action: the world must transform economies and harness the potential of a low-carbon future.  Reaching a meaningful universal agreement at the Paris Climate Conference in December this year was a vital step along this path, he said and urged the Council’s Members to demonstrate leadership and do their part in this historic year to achieve the progress the world so urgently needed.

In her opening statement, Flavia Pansieri, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, stressed that a human-rights-based approach could drive more effective climate policy and action because it sought to identify and satisfy the most pressing needs of vulnerable persons living in this highly inequitable global society.  The international community would undertake an ambitious agenda in 2015, which included finalizing the new sustainable development goals, setting out a universal, legally-binding agreement on climate change, and new agreements on financing for development. 

Martin Khor, Executive Director of the South Centre and panel moderator, in his introductory statement, said that the world did not have an adequate international system to cope with disasters, and that human rights and climate justice needed a solution to the jigsaw puzzle.

The panellists were Anote Tong, President of Kiribati; Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh; Mary Robinson, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice; Dan Bondi Ogolla, Coordinator and Principal Legal Adviser at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples; and Mithika Mwenda, Secretary-General, Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance. 

Anote Tong, President of Kiribati, wondered about the progress towards addressing climate change, and said that it was time to get into action and address all issues.  There was no louder story than the story of climate change, which remained the biggest moral challenge facing humankind; climate change and sea level rise was a global problem that required global leadership.  Many people would have to relocate and migration with dignity must be adequately discussed.

Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, said that climate change was one of the five challenges that the world needed to address in making transformative shifts over the next decades.  Across countries, communities and peoples, the capacity and vulnerability of the affected varied widely; this was related to the critical issue of equity and the ways it was needed to ensure that all affected by climate change could draw on resources and support measures fairly, equitably and with dignity. 

Mary Robinson, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, said that the most vulnerable to climate change were those already in vulnerable situations owing to factors such as geography, poverty, gender, age, indigenous or minority status and disability.  Their rights must be protected in the face of impacts of climate change, through support for adaption to build resilience and capacity to cope with climate related events, and through the support to be a part of the transition to low carbon, climate resilient development. 

Dan Bondi Ogolla, Coordinator and Principal Legal Adviser at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, spoke about the substantive obligations of States parties to the framework Convention on Climate Change to minimize the impact of response measures on human rights.  Key challenges were how to integrate a human rights dimension in the climate change framework and policies, and how to ensure the full protection of human rights in the implementation of climate-related actions. 

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said that the Fifth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change raised concerns about the land and livelihood of indigenous peoples, and was clear that indigenous knowledge increased the impact of adaptation measures.  It was crucial to respect participatory rights of indigenous peoples and ensure that their voice was heard in decision-making and the search for solutions.

Mithika Mwenda, Secretary-General, Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance, stressed the importance of ensuring that a broad understanding of human rights was used, which would place the right to development in a central position.  The discussions about climate change and human rights should not be about whether States could be held accountable for their action or inaction that contributed to the adverse effects of climate change, but should focus instead on how best to implement that responsibility. 

In the ensuing discussion, speakers agreed that the damaging consequences of climate change were being increasingly felt, depriving human beings of some of their basic human rights.  Climate change was a global challenge and the primary responsibility was with States; no one was exempt from the moral responsibility to act in solidarity with others to address this global concern.  A speaker stressed that mitigation and adaptation were the foundation of effective international cooperation, as well as the provision of new additional and predictable financial resources for capacity building and technology transfer. 

A concern was voiced that the majority of Governments that would take part in the Conference of Parties in Paris did not have a full understanding of the scope of catastrophe that climate change would bring about, and that insufficient attention was being given to human rights in the climate change discussions.  The Paris agreement offered space to make two important ethical decisions: to curb carbon emissions and sufficiently fund adaptation measures; it must include a human rights agenda and integrate issues of climate justice and equity. 

The following delegations participated in the discussion: Sweden on behalf of the Nordic Group, Algeria on behalf of the African Group, the European Union, Philippines on behalf of Climate Vulnerable Forum, Bangladesh on behalf of the Like-Minded Group, Ecuador on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Holy See, Sierra Leone, India, Chile, Paraguay, El Salvador, the Maldives, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Namibia, France, Costa Rica, Fiji, Ghana, United States, Spain, Indonesia, Nepal, Morocco, Bolivia, Ireland, Estonia, Pakistan, Switzerland, and Iran.  The United Nations Children Fund and the United Nations Population Fund also spoke. 

The national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations that took the floor were Scottish Human Rights Commission, Centre Europe – Tiers Monde, Lutheran World Federation (joint statement), Franciscans International in a joint statement, International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, and Verein Sudwind Entwickslungpolitick.

The Council will next meet at 3 p.m. this afternoon, to continue its annual discussion on human rights and climate change and hold a panel discussion on adverse impacts of climate change on States’ efforts to progressively realize the right to food, and policies, lessons learned and good practices.


Opening Statement

JOACHIM RÜCKER, President of the Human Rights Council, said the world was at a crossroads.  A new global agreement on climate change would be crafted in a few months’ time which would determine the future not only of their environment but of their societies.  Today’s discussion would focus on the challenges and best practices in addressing the adverse effects of climate change on human rights.

Statement by the United Nations Secretary-General  

BAN KI MOON, United Nations Secretary-General, speaking in video message, said climate change threatened the ability of peoples to achieve sustainable development, and in some cases their very survival.  It could fuel famine, political upheaval and conflict over resources.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent assessment confirmed that climate change had a disproportionate impact on women, the poor, indigenous peoples, traditional farmers, coastal communities and migrants.  People living in developing countries, particularly in small island developing States, in Africa and in the least developed countries, had contributed the least to dangerous carbon emissions but bore the brunt of the hardships.  It was time for climate action, said the Secretary-General.  The world must transform economies and harness the potential of a low-carbon future.  Reaching a meaningful universal agreement at the Paris Climate Conference in December this year was a vital step along that path.  The Secretary-General counted on Members of the Human Rights Council to demonstrate leadership in this historic year to achieve the progress that the world so urgently needed.

Statement by the United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights

FLAVIA PANSIERI, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the Human Rights Council’s seven resolutions on climate change clearly detailed the impact of climate change on the enjoyment of human rights.  A human-rights-based approach could drive more effective climate policy and action because it sought to identify and satisfy the most pressing needs of vulnerable persons living in their highly inequitable global society.  A new legally binding climate agreement would strengthen existing commitments to ensure respect and protection of human rights.  The international community had an ambitious agenda for 2015 which included finalizing the new sustainable development goals, setting out a universal, legally-binding agreement on climate change, and new agreements on financing for development.  The decisions made in the coming months would have far-ranging consequences and it was vital that they fully reflected the human rights obligations of States and the related responsibilities of private sector actors. 

The crucial climate talks in Paris should build on the language in the Cancun agreement and should include clear reference to the human rights principles of equality, non-discrimination, accountability, participation, empowerment, and transparency.  Real steps were needed to reduce the harmful effects of climate change.  Equitable climate action must have human rights at its core and must prevent and remedy any negative impact on the rights of vulnerable, marginalised, discriminated or at risk groups: indigenous peoples, minorities, poor, migrants and displaced persons, elderly, persons with disabilities and children.  It should empower and protect the rights of women.  Ms. Pansieri urged all States to commit to the 'Geneva Pledge on Human Rights and Climate Action'.  The Deputy High Commissioner said today’s panels offered a further opportunity to highlight the critical links between human rights and climate change and to promote action-oriented outcomes.  That would facilitate global, local, individual and collective efforts to save humanity from irreversible global warming and its devastating impact on human rights.

Statement by the Moderator of the Panel

MARTIN KHOR, Executive Director of the South Centre and Moderator of the Panel said climate change had to be considered in a package because it was a complex issue involving the environment, development and human rights.  The world did not have an adequate international system to cope with disaster.  Developing countries needed to divert resources to climate disaster and contribute to the global mitigation effort but did not have sufficient resources, as recognized in Human Rights Council resolution (A/HRC/26/L.33) which called for resources to address special needs of developing countries.  Future emissions had to be limited; but that limitation space would be used up in two decades.  A solution to the jigsaw puzzle of human rights and climate justice was needed, said Mr. Khor, hoping the panel would contribute to the search for a solution.

Statements by the Panellists

ANOTE TONG, President of the Republic of Kiribati said climate change was the biggest challenge faced by humankind.  Countries could not fail in their moral obligation to future generations.  It was time to take action and address the issues.  The President said 2015 marked a turning point in the journey, emphasizing that an approach to multilateralism would ensure no one was left behind.  He posed several challenging questions on progress made in addressing climate change and global efforts into providing security and survival.  For the Maldives, the Marshall Islands and Kiribati, climate change was about future survival.   Just last week Kiribati experienced the highest tides ever recorded, sustaining damage to hospitals and roads.  They needed to assess the costs. 

Climate change and rising sea levels were a global problem that required global leadership, said the President.  China and the United States’ commitment in 2014 to make a deal, and India’s willingness to join their group, were positive steps.  Regardless of what the Paris agreement would be, the irreversible reality was that islands would go under water.  Many people would have to relocate.  A key issue was migration with dignity but the global community showed no sign of coming forward to discuss it.  That reality had to be acknowledged by the global community, so people could migrate with dignity, and the Human Rights Council had to contribute through real action.

ABUL HASSAN MAHMOOD ALI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, said the United Nations Secretary-General’s 2013 High-Level Global Panel identified climate change as one of the five challenges where the world had to make transformative shifts to in coming decades.  At the micro level, climate change continued to affect the everyday life and livelihoods of millions of peoples in an active delta.  They were not merely development issues, but grave issues of survival for over one billion people.  It was necessary to distinguish between “climate-affected” and “climate-victims” in vulnerable countries.  It was also important to acknowledge that the capacity and vulnerability of affected people and communities varied widely.  The human rights perspective focused on the impact of climate change on the poorest, who suffered most due to low resilience and inadequate capacity to cope.  Climate change posed an existential threat for fishermen and farmers.  Bangladesh was one of the most vulnerable countries, said the Minister, but it had managed to install four million solar home systems and one and a half million improved cooking stoves.  Bangladesh pledged to pursue a low-carbon growth path.  Equity was a critical issue.  All people affected by climate change should be able to draw on resources and support measures fairly, equitably and with dignity. 

MARY ROBINSON, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation on Climate Justice, said 2015 presented a unique opportunity to set the global community on a new path away from fossil fuel-based development towards a sustainable alternative that would ensure the protection of the rights of generations to come.  Climate change confronted the world with the reality of interdependence.   Those most vulnerable to climate change were populations that were already in vulnerable situations owing to factors such as geography, poverty, gender, age, indigenous or minority status and disability.  Those people needed to have their rights evoked in two ways: one, through support for adaption to build capacity and resilience to cope with climate-related events; and two, to be part of the global transition to low carbon, climate resilient development.  Nobody could be left behind.  Ms. Robinson recommended the creation of a forum under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Human Rights Council that could allow sharing of examples and good practices.  The Geneva Pledge initiative had been developed to encourage that that happened at the national level.  She also recommended that guidance be prepared for climate actors on how to integrate human rights obligations, standards and principles in their work.  Countries needed to examine the links between human rights and climate change when preparing their reports to the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council.

DAN BONDI OGOLLA, Coordinator and Principal Legal Adviser, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said the interface between human rights and climate change existed on several levels, for example, the direct impact of climate change on the enjoyment of human rights, or the potential violation of rights due to responsive measures to climate change.  Substantive obligations imposed on States parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) minimized the impact of response measures on human rights, and facilitated public participation, access to information and awareness programmes in States’ efforts to address climate change.  National adaptation plans must be developed in participation with vulnerable populations, and on the basis of vulnerability assessments.  Two key challenges were how to integrate a human rights dimension in the climate change framework and policies, and how to ensure the full protection of human rights in the implementation of climate-related actions.

MARTIN KHOR, Executive Director of the South Centre and panel moderator, acknowledged the proposals for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on the inclusion of human rights into the Paris agreement, and said that the issue of concrete implementation still remained open.

VICTORIA TAULI-CORPUZ, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said that the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) raised concerns about the land and livelihood of indigenous peoples in Bolivia, the Arctic, small islands, northern Europe and elsewhere.  There were serious threats to the realization of the right to self-determination, enjoyment of basic rights and the rights to culture and knowledge of indigenous peoples.  Indigenous peoples were outspoken about how climate change impacted their lives and what the solutions might be.  Indigenous knowledge increased the impact of adaptation measures, particularly their holistic view of life and community which was recognized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  Community-based adaptation was a key to resilience and indigenous peoples led the way in fields such as sustainable agriculture in forests and the preservation of forests for carbon capture.  Participatory rights of indigenous peoples mattered as well; giving them the voice in decision-making would improve the solutions.

MARTIN KHOR, Executive Director of the South Centre and panel moderator, commented that if more people adopted the principles by which indigenous peoples lived, 70 per cent of climate change would be resolved.

MITHIKA MWENDA, Secretary-General, Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance, said he was sure that human rights would be on the agenda of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); it had to be ensured that Africa was considered in that context as Africans would be among the most affected people on earth.  Mr. Mwenda stressed that the right to development must take a central position.  Discussions on climate change and human rights should not be about whether States could be held accountable for their action or inaction that contributed to the adverse effects of climate change, but focus on how best to implement that responsibility.  Mr. Mwenda reiterated the call made at the 2010 Social Forum for a Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change.  There could be no more timely moment to inspire such as appointment as the countdown to the decisive Paris Climate Conference where a new global agreement would be adopted.

Discussion
 
Sweden, speaking on behalf of the Nordic Countries, said the damaging consequences of climate change were being increasingly felt, especially for island States and low-lying coastal lands, and people were being deprived of some of their basic human rights: civil and political as well as economic, social and cultural rights.  Algeria, speaking on behalf of the African Union, said the majority of people living in Africa lived in rural areas and worked in agriculture, and would be most impacted by climate change: 240 million Africans were already affected.  The African Union as concerned by the limited progress made in international discussions and asked the High Commissioner to recommend policies to tackle climate change.

The European Union recognized that climate change was a global challenge, and said the primary responsibility lay with States.  The panellists were invited to propose specific measures that would ensure protection for the most vulnerable.  Philippines, speaking on behalf of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, said it was committed to raising awareness of the impact of climate change, which could undercut the rights to food, health, water and shelter.  Bangladesh, speaking on behalf of the Like-Minded Group of Developing Countries, stated that it was important to consider how to instil human consequences in the climate change debate.  The basic foundation for an effective international cooperation was based on mitigation and adaptation, along with the provision of new and predictable financial resources for capacity building and technology transfer.  Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, recognized the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as the correct path to face the threat of climate change.  Human rights protection helped strengthen the resilience of communities facing the threat of climate change.

Holy See said that the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris offered an opportunity to make two important ethical decisions: for the world to agree to curb carbon emissions and to sufficiently fund the adaptation measures; no one was exempt from the moral responsibility to act in solidarity with others to address this global concern.  Sierra Leone said that like African countries, Sierra Leone needed support in its adaptation measures, particularly in the transfer of cost effective technologies, and stressed that, if no action was taken, Africa would need $ 50 billion per year to fund its adaptation measures.  India said that any human rights discourse on climate change should highlight the right to development and stressed that the support of States was not only a historic responsibility but a human rights obligation.  The human rights agenda, and in particular the right to food and gender considerations, must be included in the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, stressed Chile, underlying the issue of historic responsibilities.  Cooperation on local, regional and international levels was indispensable in order to make the best use of alternative sources of energy, such as wind and solar energy, including new innovative technologies, said Paraguay.  There must be broader cooperation between countries to address impacts of climate change, agreed El Salvador and added that the differentiated responsibilities must be considered. 

Scottish Human Rights Commission called for the integration of justice and equity both in the sustainable development goals and the international climate negotiations to culminate in Paris at the end of this year; climate and development policies were more effective when designed with a human-centred approach.  Centre Europe – Tiers Monde said that the majority of Governments that would take part in the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris did not have a full understanding of the scope of the catastrophe that climate change would bring about.  Lutheran World Federation, in a joint statement expressed concern that insufficient attention was being given to human rights in the climate change discussions.

Mithika Mwenda, Secretary-General of the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance, citing that the President of Kiribati had said that thousands of people were starving and that Kiribati was sinking, said climate change was like the Titanic.  When it was sinking, the weak ones, women, children and those who could not climb, sank in the water and died fast.  This was what was happening to Kiribati and to African countries.  Kiribati and African and Pacific nations were sinking.  Now, however, even the most powerful countries, the United States, Canada, and the European Union would have nowhere to go.  Action was really needed on climate change.

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said that climate change was the biggest result of the modern model of overconsumption and the search for profits, which had led to inequalities between countries.  The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris would need to acknowledge the respect for human rights for all as an integral part of all climate change mitigation.  It also needed to request input from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on how to operationalize human rights protection in human rights policy.  It was well-known that contributions from indigenous peoples were the long lasting solution to the problem of climate change.  Therefore, the current draft of the Paris agreement had to remove the brackets for indigenous peoples.

Dan Bondi Ogolla, Coordinator and Principal Legal Adviser of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, with regards to the comment made that Human Rights Council resolutions could not influence the  progress of climate change, stated that this was not true.  Regarding the question on how to integrate human rights into the climate change international legal instruments, Mr. Ogolla said that it was not a question of integrating, but a question of recognizing the human rights dimension in the climate change regime.  When parties implemented climate change policies, they needed to take into consideration the human rights dimension, both at the policy making and the implementation levels.  There was a need for the continuation of dialogue between the two communities – the human rights and climate change communities – so that climate change would fully respect human rights.

MARY ROBINSON, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation-Climate Justice, said that it should be recognized that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Human Rights Council were separate mechanisms with their own processes; they should not encroach on each other’s mandates, but could cooperate and work together in a more intense manner.  There should be a meaningful exchange between climate and human rights experts in order to better understand the discourse.  Referring to her recent visit to Chile and meeting with communities, Ms. Robinson said that it was clear that empowered communities adapted better and this was the knowledge that needed to be transmitted to climate experts.

ABUL HASSAN MAHMOOD ALI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, stressed the importance of acknowledging that the capacity of people and communities to adapt to climate change varied widely.  Human rights perspectives should bring into focus that climate change hit the poorest and most vulnerable the most.  The key issue was limited capacity and lack of resources in countries in need.

ANOTE TON, President of Kiribati, said that the question remained what were the solutions, and Kiribati asked for action because time was running out.  Would the international community act in time, would indeed there be international action?  People in Kiribati were not interested in how many degrees Celsius, but were interested in what was being done.

MARTIN KHOR, Executive Director of the South Centre and panel moderator, said that everyone acknowledged the need to intensify working together and that was why it was important that climate experts and human rights experts were present here today.

Maldives said that climate change posed a development and existential threat to low lying States such as the Maldives.  It meant a loss of a whole civilisation.  Climate change was a global problem that required a global solution and global cooperation.  Venezuela said that what was needed was a predictable and sustainable model for development for developing countries.  Following the legacy of Hugo Chavez, Venezuela was a leader in climate change and had positive examples for tackling climate change.  Viet Nam stated that rising sea levels, floods and droughts had affected the right to development.  Therefore the post-2015 development agenda needed to incorporate development with a human rights approach, with particular attention to vulnerable groups.  Namibia was facing the most severe drought in 35 years.  Deserts were spreading and rendering land uninhabitable.  Namibia was dependent on natural resources, like many developing countries.  UNICEF said that key decisions on reducing gas emissions in coming years would have a key impact on children.  Children’s voices had to be heard. Climate change adaptation and mitigation policies needed to recognize children’s rights.  France said that climate change had an impact on women and children. Natural disasters were increasing economic inequalities worldwide.  The Paris Conference would mark a new stage in human rights, including the right to land.  Costa Rica said that it was high time that the international community stopped rhetoric and did something concrete.  Mental barriers had to be overcome.  The Geneva Pledge on Human Rights in Climate Change could improve communication in this respect.  Fiji said the Human Rights Council had to step up and take concrete action to deal with climate change, and States had to act upon recommendations.   All thematic mandate holders had to be asked to consider the impact of climate change in their areas of expertise.  They needed to mainstream climate change in all rights. 

Ghana said that human life and dignity were affected by the global challenge of climate change, which required concerted global, regional and local efforts that must take into account the needs of developing countries and ensure that technology was shared with all without profiteering.  United States said that all discussions of climate change in the Human Rights Council must focus on human rights and the role of the Council was to ensure that States respected their human rights obligations.  Spain said that it was time to tackle climate change from a human rights perspective, to adopt a right-based approach in the fight against climate change, continue to build cooperation between countries and not forget the crucial issue of finances.  It was important to ensure that appropriate linkages existed between the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Human Rights Council, said Indonesia, adding that concrete steps were needed that would take countries beyond their comfort zones. 

Franciscans International, in a joint statement, said that the Human Rights Council had been unable to establish an appropriate mechanism to address climate change, and called for the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change.  This mandate could consult and report publicly on the impact of climate change on peoples and communities, and help clarify legal obligations of States and the equal share of the burden, said International Youth and Student Movement for the United NationsVerein Sudwind Entwickslungpolitick spoke about desertification as a result of the erroneous approach of many governments in the Middle East and asked the panellists about their recommendations to countries with high carbon emissions.  Nepal said that better understanding of the linkages between human rights and climate change was crucial, and that commitments must be translated into action based on common but differentiated responsibilities.

United Nations Population Fund underlined that climate change was one of most inequitable challenges of all time.  The 20-year review chartered an equitable path to greenhouse gas emissions.  The poor and marginalized were the least equipped to face climate change.  Strategic use of population data was crucial.  Morocco said that climate change had an impact on food security and development, and led to refugees and climate-displacement.  Bolivia stated that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change established a proper legal framework for sharing the responsibilities of climate change.  Bolivia had launched an appeal for the creation of an international court on climate change, in order to be able to hear out those affected by climate change.  Ireland said it had signed the Geneva Pledge and emphasized its importance.  The integration of human rights into climate policy could be achieved through participation, accountability and education.  Estonia said that millions were affected by climate change.  Time was working against the world.  A balance was needed between human rights and climate change.  Pakistan stated that owing to its geographic and demographic situation, it was one of the top 10 countries affected by climate change.  At the same time, it was one of lowest contributors to greenhouse emissions.  There was a need to focus on the accountability of countries which were historically responsible for green-house emissions.  Poor communities that had least contributed to climate change often bore the highest burden of greenhouse emissions.  Switzerland stated that 2015 would place a new climate regime.  The references in the Cancun Agreement referring to Resolution 10/4 of the Human Rights Council were still relevant.  The commitments in 2015 could not set a lower bar than those of Cancun.  Iran underlined the importance of human rights and climate change and the outcome document of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  Greenhouse gas emissions were the primary cause of climate change, and historically responsible States had to bear higher obligations in this respect.

ANOTE TONG, President of Kiribati, said that many agreed about the climate change issues and that the next challenge was what to do about it.  It was a challenge to address in Paris and in the future, and the response to climate change was going to test out human values.  Mr. Tong called on all to do something about climate change and do it in a humane way.

ABUL HASSAN MAHMOOD ALI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, thanked all the delegates for their comments from which he ascertained a strong political commitment.  Obligations must be met and they must be seen from a historical point of view.  What was needed was a legally binding document which would set out an effective cooperation framework on financial compensation and technology transfer.

MARY ROBINSON, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation-Climate Justice, said that the debate today was even more serious than previous debates on the topic in the Council.  All were more aware of the impacts of climate change and the injustice of those impacts.  It was encouraging that the President of the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, President Holland, had made it clear that he wanted it to be not just a step in the protection of human rights, but a step in protecting the rights of humanity.  There was double injustice in climate change: those least responsible were most struck by impacts, and they also risked to be excluded from the low carbon world; not leaving anyone behind required new political will.

DAN BONDI OGOLLA, Coordinator and Principal Legal Adviser, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said that this had been an enlightening discussion and that there was reason for optimism.  First, the negotiating text that was on the table already contained human rights concerns, and secondly the linkages between human rights and climate change were growing which was important to develop practical solutions and climate change policies that included human rights.

VICTORIA TAULI-CORPUZ, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said that those who historically contributed to the problem should pay the greater proportion of costs; the polluters pay principle was adhered to.  There were other countries that were presently contributing to the high level of emissions, and they had to carry their share of the burden.  Future generations must be taken into consideration.

MITHIKA MWENDA, Secretary-General of the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance, said that climate change was also an opportunity for partnership.  Everyone acknowledged the need for a paradigm shift and a change in models of consumption: the question was how to transition from the fossil fuel based mode to the low carbon mode of production and still allow developing countries to reach the desired levels of development.

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