Friday, October 08, 2021

UN declares a clean environment to be a human right

The UN Human Rights Council has voted to recognize that access to a clean and healthy environment is a fundamental human right. The motion, jointly proposed by Costa Rica, Morocco, Maldives, Switzerland and Slovenia, noted that the global environmental crisis, particularly climate change and poor air quality, leads to some nine million premature deaths every year.

The motion passed with 43 votes in favour, with just Russia, India, China and Japan abstaining (the Council is made up of 47 rotating countries; Canada and USA are not currently members). Britain initially opposed the motion, but eventually came around and voted for it because of its commitment to deal with climate change, but stressed that the fact that it is not legally binding was a major factor in this decision...

It's true that the ruling doesn't have any actual legal standing, but it does send a powerful moral message, and it is thought that it may have some significant impact on legal cases currently underway in various countries concerning climate change and other environmental matters.

Many environmentalists are lauding the decision as a game-changer, but the more hard-nosed economists and politicians are pretty much ignoring it as so much hot air (which seems appropriate). Me, I'd like to think it might be important, but the cynical part of me, which grows as I age, has lower expectations.

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