[JURIST] The Inter-American Conference on Human Rights (IACHR) [official website] has scheduled a hearing to explore whether failing to curb greenhouse gas emissions [US DOE backgrounder] constitutes a human rights violation. The environmental group EarthJustice announced [press release] Tuesday that it had received a letter [PDF text] in which the IACHR said it would hold a hearing on the topic. The hearing, set for March 1 in Washington, was prompted by a petition filed in 2005 [JURIST report] by the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) [advocacy website], which represents indigenous peoples in Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Russia. The petition [PDF text; summary, PDF] alleges that the United States' failure to sign the Kyoto Protocol [text] or other agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is contributing to global warming that "jeopardize[s] the realization of the Inuit's rights to culture, life, health, physical integrity and security, property, and subsistence." The IACHR, a seven-member panel that advises the Organization of American States [official website], initially rejected the petition. "This is very good news," said Sheila Watt-Cloutier [official profile; Rolling Stone profile], an ICC leader and 2007 Nobel Peace Prize nominee. "In the Arctic regions of Canada and the United States, warmer temperatures are melting the ice and snow that have formed the basis of our culture and survival for millennia." CBC News has more.
Representatives of the Inuit, EarthJustice and the Center for International Environmental Law [advocacy website] have been invited to appear at the one-hour hearing. EarthJustice attorney Martin Wagner pointed to findings released last week [recorded video] by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) [official website] as evidence that "the human causes of global warming can no longer be denied." According to a summary of the IPCC's forthcoming climate change report [PDF text], it is "very likely" that global warming is caused by human activity. Responding to the findings, France and 45 other nations are planning to meet [AP report] in Morocco this spring to discuss forming an international environmental body to fight global warming.
This report was prepared in partnership with the Pittsburgh Journal of Environmental and Public Health Law.