Linkages at International, National and Local Levels
Edited by Frank Maes, An Cliquet, Willemien du Plessis and Heather McLeod-Kilmurray
Chapter 8: Climate change, biodiversity and human rights: Can synergy help?
Because of profound threats to the climate, to biodiversity and to human rights in the world today, the world can no longer afford to leave the legal regimes and mechanisms governing these three areas separate from one another. This chapter examines some impacts of climate change and mitigation efforts on biodiversity and on human rights, some attempts to spur action, and the potential for synergy between legal instruments addressing these areas. It then proposes concrete steps to integrate the existing legal regimes and make each more effective for the protection of all. Impacts of climate change include increasing temperatures, sea level rise, ocean acidification, glacial retreat, land and forest degradation and loss of biodiversity, including impacts on World Heritage sites. Scientists have recorded species’ responses to climate change, including shifts in geographic ranges and in the timing of life cycles. Rapid climate changes, because of temperature increases, push species geographically toward the poles and force them to climb to higher elevations. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), an animal known in North America as the pika is likely ‘to fall victim to global warming’. It lives in areas with a cool, alpine climate. As temperatures rise due to increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the pika moves to higher elevations to find suitable habitat. But there are limits on how high in altitude the pika can move. Because its alpine habitat is shrinking and may disappear, this animal is at risk of extinction.
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