Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


Even conservative forecasts of climate change predict dramatic effects to environments, economies, and people around the world. Though the causal link between climate change and human rights is not as readily apparent as with other environmental issues, climate change impacts public health, food security, infrastructures, and natural resources. For the Inuit living in the rapidly melting Arctic, and citizens of small island developing states facing sea level rise, climate change has become a matter of human rights. This note explores the effect of climate change on human rights, such as the right to life and the right to health, as well as other links between human rights and climate change, such as indigenous rights and the concept of "environmental refugees." A human rights-based approach could result in a renewed sense of urgency in the political debate over climate change and jumpstart international diplomacy towards solutions such as the Kyoto Protocol. At the very least, it will show that climate change is a problem that affects not only the environment, but people as well.