Journal of Human Rights and the Environment

Climate ethics and human rights

John H Knox *

Keywords: climate change, human rights, United Nations, Human Rights Council


Compared to other ethical approaches to climate change, a human rights approach has several advantages: it draws on a widely accepted, coherent and well-developed set of legal norms, it places the human beings most affected by climate change at the centre of its analysis, and it has strong connections to mechanisms of implementation and enforcement. Human rights already provide a sturdy framework for addressing climate change at the micro level of specific projects and national adaptation policies, but face greater challenges at the macro level of global mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, human rights law contains elements that should allow it to address climate change as a global challenge to human rights.

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