Requested Report for European Parliament on “Human Rights and Climate Change: EU Policy Options

by Magdalena Muir

A report that was requested by the European Parliament has just been published: “Human Rights and Climate Change: EU Policy Options”. This report provides a survey of  the relationships  between human rights and climate change. It examines the external diplomacy of the EU in the fields of human rights and climate change. It analyzes the effectiveness and the efficiency of the integration of climate concerns within the EU’s external development policy. Special emphasis is put on climate and human migration. The study then considers internal EU climate policies, from the perspective of human rights. Finally, this work clarifies the existing environmental human right to public information and participation in decision-making,s and how it may evolve in EU internal and external climate policy. The report is found at the link below:

Although science has provided many early warnings about the consequences of climate change on human well-being and is becoming increasingly precise regarding its impacts particularly on the most vulnerable populations, policies have not yet actually addressed the question of links between climate

change and human rights. The role played by the European Union in both of these fields of its internal and external competence, puts it in a rather unique position. The report makes specific European policy recommendations concerning climate mitigation and adaptation and human rights, including:

The distributional consequences of mitigation policies: Mitigation policies imply distributional consequences and may generate negative human rights impacts, which can disproportionately affect certain social groups within and outside the European Union. More care should be taken in matters of environmental justice to address discrimination in the sharing of mitigation benefits, risks and  costs. The European Union could achieve this through the integration of human rights criteria into the impact assessment of mitigation policies and by using the revenue from auctions, by selecting Joint Implementation (/Clean Development Mechanism credits admitted within the  European Union Emissions Trading Scheme, by taking due account of the right to property when amending mitigation legislation, and by favouring a better access to courts for private individuals

The integration of human rights into adaptation policies: The mainstreaming of human rights into European Union adaptation policies follows from the application of binding human rights instruments, such as the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,  the Treaty on European Union , and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, according to which the European Union shall ensure consistency between all of its policies and activities, and take all of its objectives into account. At present, some structural and substantial barriers are, however, hampering the effective integration of human rights into the definition and implementation of European Union policies. The report discusses and makes specific recommendation in this regard.