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Saturday, June 22, 2024

The environment is dying", says human rights chief

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Austria's Volker Türk, warned that the environment was "burning, melting, flooding, depleting, drying up and dying". He added that tackling climate change was a matter of human rights, and that the world demanded action "immediately". Seven years before the 2030 deadline, emissions must be reduced by 43%. COP28, to be held at the end of the year in the United Arab Emirates, will provide a comprehensive assessment of progress made since the adoption of the Paris Agreements, and should be a crucial milestone in the process of change.

Rising temperatures

At the annual round table on the adverse effects of climate change on human rights, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated that if current trends continue, the average temperature rise by the end of the century will be 3 degrees Celsius. The planet's ecosystems, air, food, water and human life itself would become unrecognizable. What's more, the right to food would be totally threatened by climate change.

Threat to access to food

Between 2000 and 2023, on a global scale, the number of flood-related disasters fueled by climate increased by 134%. In 2021, more than 828 million people suffered from hunger. By the middle of this century, climate change is expected to expose up to 80 million more people to the risk of famine. "Yet we are not acting with the urgency and determination required. Leaders perform the choreography of deciding to act and promising to act, then... get bogged down in the short term," stressed the human rights chief.

Observed effects

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, extreme weather events linked to climate change have already affected the productivity of all agricultural and fishing sectors, with negative consequences for food security and people's livelihoods. At present, it is small-scale farmers and populations in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, small island states, Central and South America who suffer most from these consequences.

No country will be spared

"As global warming accelerates, these impacts will spread and intensify. No country will be spared. The hardest hit will be those living in countries where food insecurity is already present, and where protection systems are not sufficiently robust to respond effectively to climate shocks. These are often countries that have benefited little from industrial development, and have made virtually no contribution to the industrial processes that are killing our environment and violating our rights", explained Volker Türk.

COP28, a decisive event 

According to the human rights chief's vision, companies and governments should be accountable for their actions. We should rise "above the forces of polarization" and unite "around the imperative of human rights". The most affected countries and populations should have access to climate finance. So, seven years after Paris, the COP28 to be held at the end of November in Dubai (November 30 - December 12, 2023), in the United Arab Emirates, should be the major turning point and make the difference.