UN rights expert urges legally binding agreement on greenhouse gas emissions News
UN rights expert urges legally binding agreement on greenhouse gas emissions

[JURIST] UN Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity Virginia Dandan has urged states attending the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) in Lima, Peru, to commit to a new legally binding agreement on greenhouse gas emissions. The twentieth session of the global climate change conference (COP20) [session overview] begins on Monday and lasts until December 12. Dandan called on states to make meaningful progress towards drafting a legally binding agreement that could be affirmed at the conference next year. 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.

All state parties to the UNFCCC have committed to respect and protect human rights. While Dandan has applauded recent breakthroughs such as the creation of the Green Climate Fund [official website], she argues that more action is urgently needed [press release].

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change [text, PDF; JURIST backgrounder] is the first major treaty in response to global climate change. The non-binding treaty does not set greenhouse gas emissions standards on individual countries but requires all parties to participate in Conference of the Parties meetings. Earlier this month the US and China announced an agreement [JURIST report] to reduce greenhouse gas output. Together the two nations account for one third of global greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement marked the first time that China, the world’s chief emitter of greenhouse gas, pledged to cap its emissions.