Friday, May 15, 2015

Climate change and human rights

Greetings from the Australian National University where Dr Matthew Rimmer is speaking on "Mary Robinson’s declaration of climate justice: climate change, human rights and fossil fuel divestment". Former Irish President, Mary Robinson explains in her autobiography "Everybody Matters" how she came to see climate change as a human rights issue.She latest established the Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice (MRFCJ).

Dr Rimmer then discussed the Declaration on Climate Justice, modeled on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There is also a three minute video "Hunger, Nutrition and Climate Justice Conference Animation". 

Dr Rimmer then went through some options for the Paris Accord, such as financial aid, a climate fund and access to Green technology. He also mentioned Tesla's batter technology for homes. However, I suggest that adapting the batteries from luxury cars is unlikely to provide an affordable energy system for the world's poorest people.

While well meaning, I have doubts as to the practical value of such a climate declaration. Demanding fair and just opportunities for the poor and vulnerable is unlikely to change the decision making of those who are rich and in positions of power. What is needed is to provide the poor and vulnerable with a voice in negotiations.

I suggest making use of the Internet to make up of the lack of voice of the poor and vulnerable. As an example, developing nations could be provided with an on-line system which would provide them with real time expert advice in international negotiations. This would counter the advantage which wealthy nations have in negations where they have large teams of negotiators backs up by hundreds of researches.

Developing nations delegates could use their smart phones to transmit what is happening in the negotiations to a team of thousands of volunteers around the world, who would carry out analysis, compare what is happening in other forums and make recommendations. Perhaps such a system would make a good project for Australian Ethical Investment to fund.

Dr Rimmer presented an overview of authors on fossil fuel divestment and examples at universities. What struck me was these were all from the USA (and one from Australia). What struck me was that this seems to be rich westerners deciding how to help poor people in developing nations, without bothering to ask people in those countries what they think. About the only exception to this was one quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Dr Rimmer's talk follows on from one by Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Professor Broome, one of the authors of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) report.

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