UN rights chief: ‘Don’t leave the climate crisis for our children to fix’

UN News Centre

Global heating is a burning human rights issue, as extreme weather and climate disasters threaten humanity’s universal right to food, UN rights chief Volker Türk said on Monday.

“We must not leave this for our children to fix – no matter how inspiring their activism,” he told the Human Rights Council, advocating for a “just transition” to a green economy.

“I ask every member of this Council to take this clear message out of the Palais des Nations and into every aspect of their work,” he said, stressing that it was today’s leaders who had the responsibility to take climate action. 

Short-term thinking

Mr. Türk warned that on the world’s current trajectory, “our air, our food, our water, and human life itself would be unrecognizable”, with an average temperature increase by the end of the century soaring to 3°C, well above the 1.5°C limit, as outlined in the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change.

He deplored that despite all the alarm bells going off, leaders were still not acting with the determination required and getting “stuck in the short term”. 

“If this is not a human rights issue, what is?”, he asked.



Right to food increasingly challenged

The High Commissioner underscored that the right to food was “comprehensively threatened” by climate change and recalled that there had been a 134 per cent increase in climate-fuelled, flood-related disasters since the turn of the century.

Not only do extreme weather events and disasters destroy ecosystems and farmers’ livelihoods, but their fast and relentless repetition makes it impossible for communities to rebuild and support themselves, he said. 


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