Decades of climate negotiations could be undermined by rights omission

KATOWICE, 8 December. A broad coalition spanning multiple constituencies calls on Parties to deliver on the Paris promises and guarantee that the vision of people-centered and rights-based climate action outlined in the Paris Agreement remains at the core of the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement marked a historic recognition by Parties of the necessity to respect and protect human rights in all climate action. As we enter the last stretch to finalize the Paris Rulebook, Parties seem to suffer from amnesia, but there is only one way forward: to shift towards rights-based solutions, ensuring the participation of people around the world as well as consideration of gender, indigenous peoples, a just transition, and intergenerational equity in the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

As Monday marks the  70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is vital to uphold these principles in all action to address the humanitarian crisis of today: climate change. Leaving out fundamental rights would not only undermine the Paris Agreement itself, but also send a dangerous signal to populations around the world living on the frontlines of climate change.

“It is essential that States fully integrate human rights standards and principles in the Paris Rulebook. It will be very unfortunate if the need to protect and respect fundamental rights is not reiterated in the decisions here in Katowice. This will further harm the most vulnerable sections of society.”

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

“Immediate action is necessary to avoid the suffering of millions of people and the collapse of ecosystems, and to be truly effective that action must be rights-based and people-centered. At a time when every human right is threatened by the accelerating climate crisis, it is unacceptable for negotiators to be backsliding on the promises of the Paris Agreement. Three years ago, Parties recognized that they must respect and protect human rights in all climate action. Now, in the height of irony, on the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Parties appear to be breaking these promises. Adopting a rulebook without human rights, rights of indigenous peoples and gender equality is unacceptable. Seventy years ago, world leaders aligned to ensure that egregious human rights violations would never again be committed on a global scale and now, they must honor this commitment by embracing to people-centered climate action and enhancing their ambition.”

Sébastien Duyck, Senior Attorney, Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)

“In our day-to-day work with vulnerable communities, we sadly observe that women experience a double injustice: in addition to gender inequality, they bear the brunt of climate impacts. But Parties at COP24 must not ignore that women also play an instrumental role in adapting to climate change and building the resilience of their communities. Here in Katowice, Parties must demonstrate that the climate talks are not disconnected from the real world. To support meaningful climate action which both tackles this double injustice and respects women’s role as agents of change, countries must ensure that the Paris Rulebook calls for gender-responsive climate action.”

Fanny Petitbon, Advocacy Manager for CARE France

“Including human rights in the Rulebook is essential to intergenerational equity, the rights of future generations. Young and future generations have the right to a stable climate, derived from the right to an adequate environment. Taking climate action while massively violating human rights, based on inadequate policies, would be an heresy. We are to face a dramatic unprecedented crisis that will only worsen in the years and decades to come if we fail. Human rights are here as guidance, if we fail to comprehensively and concretely integrate fundamental rights into our Rulebook, we condemn young and future generations to face the darkest hours unprotected, and left behind.”

Pramisha Thapaliya, member of CliMates Nepal and YOUNGO: