[Vision2020] Today's LMT & 4-19-16 Human Rights Watch: "Signing the Climate Change Deal Is Just the Beginning"
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Sat Apr 23 17:51:35 PDT 2016
>From today's Lewiston Morning Tribune:
*Record 175 countries ink climate change agreement *
China, U.S. could ratify 'covenant with the future' later this year
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[image: Record 175 countries ink climate change agreement]
Record 175 countries ink climate change agreement
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry holds his granddaughter, Isabel
Dobbs-Higginson, as he signs the Paris Agreement on climate change Friday
at U.N. headquarters.
Posted: Saturday, April 23, 2016 12:00 am
Record 175 countries ink climate change agreement
UNITED NATIONS - The historic agreement on climate change marked a major
milestone Friday with a record 175 countries signing on to it on opening
day. But world leaders made clear more action is needed, and quickly, to
fight a relentless rise in global temperatures.
With the planet heating up to record levels, sea levels rising and glaciers
melting, the pressure to have the Paris Agreement enter into force and to
have every country turn its words into deeds was palpable at the U.N.
*This so called "agreement" is not legally binding, and is more of a
statement of "good intentions."*
*As is often said, "The road to hell if paved with good intentions."*
*The following article from Human Rights Watch place emphasis on the impact
of anthropogenic global warming to the lives of human beings, which for
many should be more compelling than emphasizing mass extinction of species,
a very serious impact from global warming but sadly often not emotionally a
major factor for many people.*
April 19, 2016
Signing the Climate Change Deal Is Just the Beginning
Human rights is an essential part of implementing the new climate accord
*Katharina Rall * Researcher, Health and Human Rights Division
The signing ceremony
the United Nations this week for the climate deal
<http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2015/cop21/eng/l09r01.pdf> brokered in
Paris last year will be a moment of truth. Already, more than 130
governments, including the United States and China, have promised to be
here. But what will really count is whether these governments carry out
their commitments at home and how they will protect people who are already
in danger of losing their homes, communities, and livelihoods due to the
effects of changes in the climate.
The countries that negotiated the global climate deal are all parties
<http://indicators.ohchr.org/> to other international treaties that include
binding legal obligations to protect the rights of their people including
those who are most vulnerable. But what is special about this climate pact
is that it is the first
since nations started meeting about climate change two decades ago that
addresses protecting people’s rights in addition to addressing the impact
on the environment.
A recent study <https://health2016.globalchange.gov/> commissioned by the
White House about the impact of climate change on health in the United
States makes clear what is at stake. It says that climate change is already
contributing to temperature increases, more frequent and severe weather
events, degraded air quality, and diseases transmitted through food and
water. This study says with a high degree of certainty that the impact of
climate change on health can be assessed and predicted for people living in
North America. “Every American is vulnerable to the health impacts
associated with climate change,” the report says.
However, as the report emphasizes, climate change affects people in
different countries and within countries very unevenly. Individuals and
groups especially vulnerable to the impact on health include those with low
income, communities of color, immigrant groups, indigenous peoples,
children, pregnant women, older adults, and people with disabilities.
These groups are more likely to live in flood-prone coastal stretches,
houses with older or poorly maintained infrastructure, or regions with a
high degree of air pollution. They are also more likely to suffer from
chronic medical conditions, making them more vulnerable to the effects of
climate change. The study also points out that socioeconomic and
educational factors such as language skills and access to transportation,
health care, and education affect people’s ability to prepare for, respond
to, and cope with climate-related health risks. Access to health care in
particular is still spotty in many US states.
Research last year by Human Rights Watch in a remote region of Kenya
climate change and other environmental impacts have already greatly reduced
the water supply found that people were getting sick for lack of water for
drinking and hygiene and going hungry because they could no longer make
their living by herding livestock. The urgent needs of the people there
make clear the importance of addressing the human impact of climate change
now and not some time in the future.
The global agreement on climate change explicitly addresses some of these
issues, saying that countries should “respect, promote and consider” human
rights including the right to the highest obtainable standard of health.
And it focuses on the rights of those who are disproportionately affected,
citing indigenous peoples, women, migrants, children, and those in
Calling on governments to respect rights does not ensure that they will.
But environmental activtists, human rights organizations, women’s rights
leaders, indigenous peoples, and environmental groups will work to hold
governments to these commitments.
For the governments attending the UN ceremony, this is not the end of the
process but the beginning. Much needs to be done—and urgently. These
governments will not only need to work with one other, but also with the
people in affected communities to find solutions to emerging problems. It’s
crucial that they recognize that this will only be possible by fully
respecting their rights.
Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett
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