Climate Change and Human Rights

By WOLFGANG SACHS

Climate change is far from being just an ecological issue; it is also an issue of equity. In particular, climate change was identified as an issue of intergenerational equity. It became ominously clear to observers that global warming, since it modifies important parameters of the ecology of the planet, such as sea levels or weather patterns, will affect the relations between present and future generations. At the same time, it came to the fore that the use of fossil fuels not only affects inter-generational equity, but also intra-generational equity, i.e., the relations between nations and social groups within a generation.


Equity within a generation has at least two dimensions. First, it implies the fair distribution of burdens and benefits of fossil fuel use among nations. Secondly, however, it also implies the universal protection of human dignity by securing the fundamental rights of every human person to water, food, housing, and health. WDEV's new Special Report (1/2007) focuses on the latter dimension; it explores the links between human rights and climate change, without, however, losing sight of the broader framework of equity in climate politics ...

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