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Robust, legally binding agreement on CO2 emissions crucial to avert climate catastrophe – UN expert

Climate change and human rights

28 November 2014

GENEVA (28 November 2014) – The UN Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity Virginia B. Dandan today urged the States gathering at a global climate change conference in Lima, Peru on Monday to unite and sincerely commit to a new legally binding agreement on greenhouse emissions.

“Rising global temperature is a worldwide concern – our atmosphere knows no territorial boundaries,” Dandan stressed. “Climate change is a global challenge and the central issue is human survival. It is the duty of all governments in the world to unite and cut emissions so that global warming can be maintained below two degrees Centigrade. The human rights consequences of inaction will especially affect the most vulnerable and marginalized populations worldwide who will suffer the gravest deprivations including on their right to food.”

She warned: “With developing countries rapidly joining the more developed countries in burning substantial quantities of fossil fuel, the global situation is reaching a tipping point that would trigger an irreversible trajectory to climate catastrophe.”

Dandan called on States to seize upon the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC-COP20) to make meaningful progress towards drafting a robust legally binding agreement in preparation for COP 21, the December 2015 conference in Paris where this agreement is expected to be affirmed.

The expert stressed that international solidarity was crucial to ensure that the most vulnerable States benefit first and most from the assistance of those with the greatest capacity to assist.

“Such solidarity is fundamental to achieving climate justice. Preventive policies need to be created and pre-emptive action taken to alleviate the inequalities that climate change generates and perpetuates,” she said. “A comprehensive human rights-based approach is needed in tackling this issue, which has clear human rights implications.”

“All State Parties to the UNFCCC have committed to respect and protect human rights, and therefore it is their duty to ensure that the processes and outcomes of international action to address climate change are fully consistent with States’ human rights obligations.”

Lauding the breakthroughs of the recent past, including the creation of the Green Climate Fund, the further decisions about reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD-Plus) and the establishment of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage, the expert said additional steps are urgently needed.

“Tangible discussions must continue in Lima, on issues such as how new technologies will be funded,” Dandan said, noting her desire for the prompt operationalization of the Green Climate Fund.

“I urge States to cooperate to create a meaningful draft agreement at the end of the UNFCC COP 20 in Lima – one that contains the Parties’ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, precisely indicating how much each country will reduce its CO2 emissions,” she said.

“Most importantly,” the expert stated, “I reiterate the call on States to include language in the 2015 climate agreement which provides that the Parties shall, in all climate change related actions, respect, protect, promote, and fulfil human rights for all. I urge the State Parties at COP 20 in Lima to launch a work program to ensure that human rights are integrated into all aspects of climate actions.”*

“Continued collaboration among State parties must endure throughout the negotiations in 2015, before a new legally binding environmental agreement is affirmed in Paris at COP 21.”

(*) Read the Open Letter Open Letter from Special Procedures mandate-holders of the Human Rights Council to the State Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on the occasion of the meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action in Bonn (20-25 October 2014):


Virginia Dandan (Philippines) was appointed Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity in June 2011 by the UN Human Rights Council. She is currently an independent specialist on human rights in development, focusing on the application of the normative content of economic, social and cultural rights. Ms. Dandan was a member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights for twenty years(1990-2010) and served as its Chairperson for eight years (1998-2006). She continues her practise as a professional artist after retiring from the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts where she was Dean of the faculty from 2000 to 2006. Ms. Dandan is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. Learn more, visit:

Read the Independent Expert’s proposed draft declaration on the right of peoples and individuals to international solidarity:

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