Today marks the 4th day of yet another slow-going session of negotiations for a new global treaty on climate change. During last night’s briefing with the U.S. delegation, Jonathan Pershing, the lead negotiator for the U.S., began his remarks by asking “Why has there been no movement? What is holding up this process?” His response, quite candidly, was “the U.S.” Despite the U.S.’ weak negotiating mandate and the slog to consolidate the 280-page negotiating text to something more manageable, there has been significant progress in some areas.
On behalf of Climate Law & Policy Project and Many Strong Voices, we are working to protect the individuals and communities most vulnerable to climate change and, within the climate negotiations, to ensure that human rights protections are integrated in the final agreement.
Currently, the treaty text contains many references to the human rights implications of climate change as well as the need to protect vulnerable peoples, indigenous peoples and displaced peoples (oftentimes referred to as climate refugees). We are following the negotiations closely to make sure that these references survive the massive text consolidation that is underway and advocating for stronger language that is based on existing human rights obligations and commitments.
We are not alone in this effort to incorporate human rights into the international climate framework. Earlier this week at an event in Geneva, Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said it was crucial that the voices of the most vulnerable are represented in Copenhagen. She further stated “[i]t is essential from a human rights perspective that the Copenhagen accord not only ensures the reduction of dangerous greenhouse gas emissions, but also guarantees the participation of citizens” in the development and implementation of climate policies.
Over the next week, we hope to meet with the Swiss and other delegations here in Bangkok to further develop partnerships and support for human rights language in the treaty text. Stay tuned for more next week!
Climate Law and Policy Programme