HUMAN RIGHTS AND CLIMATE CHANGE


BY GYDE JENSEN

"CLIMATE CHANGE IS ONE OF THE GREATEST RISKS
TO THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS OF OUR TIME"

Anyone who denies its effects is refusing to face reality. To prevent climate change and its effects is a challenge for humanity. At the same time, we are confronted with an imbalanced public debate. While some may not be aware of how industrialized and emerging economies contribute to climate change, others are ignorant to its consequences. There is a lack of prudence in taking on the challenges and causes of climate change, particularly in Germany. Instead of radical protests, we need reasonable solutions.


We have to truly accept that climate change has drastic consequences. Extreme weather events are becoming more and more frequent. Droughts are now longer and occur more often, the same goes for floods. There is snowfall in regions that have never seen snow in the past. At the same time moderate climate zones are now struck by heat waves and forest fires. This poses a new global risk to the fundamental human rights to life, health and food, particularly for those people and regions that are already confronted with major challenges on a regular basis. The changing climate also has destabilizing effects on political systems. They promote violent conflicts over access to basic needs such as food and water. 40% of the civil wars in the last 60 years have been linked to environmental damage. A number that is set to increase in the future.


Climate change has already resulted in a substantial increase in famines around the world. Half of all the projects of the UN World Food Programme during the last decade became necessary for climate-related reasons. The World Health Organization predicts that in the period of 2030 and 2050 up to an additional 250,000 people will die from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat strokes alone.


The effects of climate change will greatly affect human rights which is why we are required to increase our efforts to defend them. We have to change the path our society is heading down and need to move towards an actual climate consensus, on a national level at first, then on a European and finally on an international level. Every state can respectively contribute in ensuring that this project will succeed. To do so, we will need a cool head, a rational debate and the unequivocal will to promote technical innovations. It is imperative that we increase our efforts to not emit CO2 in the first place. CO2 can be avoided most effectively where the costs of CO2 avoidance are the lowest. And improving the building insulation is one of the hidden gems of protecting the climate. We will only be successful if we tackle the root causes of climate change. It will be particularly dangerous if we revert to symbolic politics. A market economy-based system with a uniform CO2 price will help us achieve a lot more than increasing the taxes on travel by plane and car or bans of certain technologies ever could.


If we fail here, we will struggle with increasingly severe humanitarian consequences and will witness increasingly negative effects on our political discourse now and in the future. But above all, we will fail to effectively counteract climate change despite our widespread efforts. Our goal must be to prevent future damages today instead of repairing things down the road at high costs. Uninspired, ideological dilly-dally will not get us where we need to go, smart solutions will.


Let's rise to the challenge.

MENSCHENRECHTE
UND KLIMA


GYDE JENSEN

„Klimawandel ist eine der größten Gefahren
für die Menschenrechte“


Anyone who denies its effects is refusing to face reality. To prevent climate change and its effects is a challenge for humanity. At the same time, we are confronted with an imbalanced public debate. While some may not be aware of how industrialized and emerging economies contribute to climate change, others are ignorant to its consequences. There is a lack of prudence in taking on the challenges and causes of climate change, particularly in Germany. Instead of radical protests, we need reasonable solutions.


We have to truly accept that climate change has drastic consequences. Extreme weather events are becoming more and more frequent. Droughts are now longer and occur more often, the same goes for floods. There is snowfall in regions that have never seen snow in the past. At the same time moderate climate zones are now struck by heat waves and forest fires. This poses a new global risk to the fundamental human rights to life, health and food, particularly for those people and regions that are already confronted with major challenges on a regular basis. The changing climate also has destabilizing effects on political systems. They promote violent conflicts over access to basic needs such as food and water. 40% of the civil wars in the last 60 years have been linked to environmental damage. A number that is set to increase in the future.


Climate change has already resulted in a substantial increase in famines around the world. Half of all the projects of the UN World Food Programme during the last decade became necessary for climate-related reasons. The World Health Organization predicts that in the period of 2030 and 2050 up to an additional 250,000 people will die from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat strokes alone.


The effects of climate change will greatly affect human rights which is why we are required to increase our efforts to defend them. We have to change the path our society is heading down and need to move towards an actual climate consensus, on a national level at first, then on a European and finally on an international level. Every state can respectively contribute in ensuring that this project will succeed.

To do so, we will need a cool head, a rational debate and the unequivocal will to promote technical innovations. It is imperative that we increase our efforts to not emit CO2 in the first place. CO2 can be avoided most effectively where the costs of CO2 avoidance are the lowest. And improving the building insulation is one of the hidden gems of protecting the climate. We will only be successful if we tackle the root causes of climate change. It will be particularly dangerous if we revert to symbolic politics. A market economy-based system with a uniform CO2 price will help us achieve a lot more than increasing the taxes on travel by plane and car or bans of certain technologies ever could.


If we fail here, we will struggle with increasingly severe humanitarian consequences and will wit-
ness increasingly negative effects on our political discourse now and in the future. But above all, we will fail to effectively counteract climate change despite our widespread efforts. Our goal must be to prevent future damages today instead of repairing things down the road at high costs. Uninspired, ideological dilly-dally will not get us where we need to go, smart solutions will.


Let's rise to the challenge.



Gyde Jensen MdB

Vorsitzende des Ausschusses für Menschenrechte und Humanitäre Angelegenheiten des Deutschen Bundestages.


Gyde Jensen MdB

Chairwoman of the Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid of the Parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany

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