UN Human Rights Council to Examine Dangers of 2 Degrees

Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment to Report to the UN Human Rights Council

Thursday 3 March 2016, Geneva, Switzerland

The United Nations Human Rights Council will hear from Mr. John Knox, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, the findings of a Climate Vulnerable Forum commissioned study by the Special Proceedures of the Human Rights Council on the risks of 2 degrees of warming for the enjoyment of fundamental human rights. The information will be shared with the highest UN body for human rights as a part of the presentation of two new reports on climate change and the implementation of the Council’s mandate on human rights and the environment.
The Special Rapporteur John Knox will spotlight the report, entitled “The Effects of Climate Change on the Full Enjoyment of Human Rights,” prepared by a group of UN Special Procedures at the request of the Climate Vulnerable Forum which found “adverse effects on the enjoyment of human rights of even a 2°C increase in the average global temperature.”
In the report (HRC/31/53) being presented by the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment this week at the UN Human Rights Council and in reference to existing government commitments to action on climate change, Knox states that: “From a human rights perspective, then, it is necessary not only to implement the current intended contributions, but also to strengthen those contributions to meet the target set out in article 2 of the Paris Agreement*.”
The Special Rapporteur had issued an official communication on 3 December 2015 during the UN Climate Change Conference at Paris (UNFCCC COP21) highlighting that “an increase of even 2 degrees would have devastating effects on the human rights of the most vulnerable.” And that “The Climate Vulnerable Forum countries’ proposed target of 1.5 degrees would better accord with human rights principles,” while urging states to honour their rights obligations with the UNFCCC Paris Agreement which enshrined the 1.5 degrees limit.
The report to the Human Rights Council this week also highlights that: “States are aware of the gap between their current commitments and their collective goal, and they agreed in Paris to review the adequacy of their commitments through stocktaking exercises every five years, beginning in 2018.
“However, it is already clear that States must begin to move beyond their current commitments even before the first stocktaking, in order to close the gap between what is promised and what is necessary.”
The Special Rapporteur John Knox will additionally hold a meeting with civil society groups in Geneva on Wednesday 2 March at the Palais Wilson.
John Knox is one of the Special Procedure authors of the special report provided to the Climate Vulnerable Forum and conveyed as a submission to the UN climate convention’s (UNFCCC) 2013-2015 Review of the long-term goal.
The Implementation Report and the Report on Human Rights and Climate Change are available to download here.
 * Article 2 of the UNFCCC Paris Agreement enshrines holding “the increase in temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C”
Photo Credit: United Nations Photo, Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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