A crucial new tool for #ClimateAction #SDG13 UN resolution: Living in a clean healthy and sustainable environment is a universal right. #StopEcocide

We just got a crucial new tool for climate action, let’s get to work!

It’s official! The UN General Assembly, the main policy-making organ of the United Nations, has adopted a resolution recognizing that living in a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment is a universal human right.

So, what does this mean for climate action?

Human rights experts say that the resolution will change the very nature of international human right law, empowering ordinary people to demand that governments and businesses protect the environment and uphold a range of related human rights, instead of just “nagging” them about doing a better job taking care of the home that we all share.

In 2010, the Assembly – comprised of 193 countries, making it the UN’s most representative body – recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation “are essential to the realization of all human rights”.

Since then, many governments have responded by changing their constitutions, their highest and most robust laws, and have worked to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

“We are simply talking about the very life support system of this planet.”
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Germany’s former chief climate scientist (2009)

“Burning all fossil fuels would create a very different planet than the one that humanity knows. The palaeoclimate record and ongoing climate change make it clear that the climate system would be pushed beyond tipping points, setting in motion irreversible changes, including ice sheet disintegration with a continually adjusting shoreline, extermination of a substantial fraction of species on the planet, and increasingly devastating regional climate extremes” and “this equates 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs per day 365 days per year” . James Hansen et al. 2012 and James Hansen 2012. Planetwide Ecocide

Ensuring a healthy environment means tackling the “triple planetary crisis” UN Secretary-General António Guterres has warned us about many times: climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss.

The resolution is expected to be a catalyst for action to address these challenges by reducing carbon emissions, improving air quality, and restoring our fragile planetary ecosystems, among other solutions.

It also represents a key victory in the decades-long battle for environmental justice that has been waged by environmentalists and human rights defenders, following last year’s landmark decision by the UN Human Rights Council to recognize that a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment is just as important as other fundamental rights, including those set out in the Universal Declaration.

Of course, we give you all the details about this milestone for humanity and our planet in our featured story below.

In today’s newsletter, we also recap an issue we know is on all your minds: the record-breaking heatwaves that have baked huge swaths of the northern hemisphere in the past weeks. We also spotlight the importance of animal health to reduce carbon emissions, and how mangroves are critical for climate action.

Read on to understand how the Ukraine war is hampering climate action, and to find out the answers to these two questions: What does food have to do with climate change? And, why did the UN chief just say the world is currently choosing “collective suicide”?

UN Featured Story

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s