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Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Zeid urges climate change ambition as Paris deal enters into force

Climate call

03 November 2016

GENEVA (3 November 2016) – The entry into force on 4 November of the Paris Climate Change Agreement should spur States to be more ambitious in their commitment to tackling global warming, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said on Thursday.

“A year ago, the world celebrated the passage of the first universal, binding agreement to mitigate climate change, but there is a clear disconnect between the Paris Agreement’s stated ambition to limit warming to less than two degrees and the commitments countries have made. That gap must be closed,” Zeid said.

“Climate change is a threat to us all and to future generations, and to the enjoyment of human rights now and in the years ahead. A continually warming world will be a graveyard for entire ecosystems, entire peoples – and potentially even entire nations,” the High Commissioner said.

“That each of the last three years has been the hottest on record shows why it is imperative to focus on implementing the Paris deal and to ensure that the commitments States made to respect and promote human rights in climate action are acted upon and deepened,” Zeid stressed.

Recent agreements to phase out hydrofluorocarbons and offset greenhouse gas emissions from planes represent positive steps – but they are not enough, the High Commissioner noted.

This is why the Conference of Parties (COP22) due to take place in Marrakech from 7-18 November is so important, Zeid said. “States need to take urgent action at COP22 to make sure that the measures detailed in the Paris Agreement are carried out. This will require adequate financing, sharing of technology and capacity-building. States also have an obligation to work individually and collectively to foster an environment for the enjoyment of all human rights by all. For this, they need to show more ambition and more willingness to cooperate internationally.”

The Paris Agreement establishes a framework to measure, review and verify States’ commitments, and calls for cooperation to enhance climate change education, training, public awareness and participation, as well as people’s access to information.

“This framework needs to be transparent and to integrate human rights considerations within its reporting guidelines. Accountability for action - or inaction - is essential,” Zeid said.

The High Commissioner noted that the rights of groups and people disproportionately affected by climate change must be protected. States must also take measures to ensure that the steps they take to mitigate or adapt to climate change, such as biofuel or hydroelectric projects, do not harm those they are intended to protect.

“The climate crisis represents a fundamental threat to the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. It requires coordinated, international action by States. Businesses must behave responsibly and respect human rights, including by taking measures to cut their greenhouse emissions. And we all, as individuals, must do our part by making responsible consumer choices and by increasing the pressure on our Governments to tackle climate change,” he said.

“I urge all the parties that will be at the COP22 in Marrakech to ensure that the meeting is about States taking action in accordance with their international human right obligations,” the High Commissioner said. “The world cannot wait.”


NOTE TO EDITORS: To date, 94 countries have ratified the Agreement. Chek for updates here:

For more information about the human rights obligations of States in the context of climate change please see:

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