Climate change is not only having a devastating impact on the environments we live in, but also on respect for human rights globally, the UN warned Monday, urging collective action.
UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet cited the civil wars sparked by a warming planet and the plight of indigenous people in an Amazon ravaged by wildfires and rampant deforestation.
She also denounced attacks on environmental activists, particularly in Latin America, and the abuse aimed at high-profile figures such as teenage campaigner Greta Thunberg.
“The world has never seen a threat to human rights of this scope,” she told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
“The economies of all nations, the institutional, political, social and cultural fabric of every state, and the rights of all your people, and future generations, will be impacted” by climate change, she warned.
The 42nd session of the council opened with a minute of silence for the victims of Hurricane Doriane in the Bahamas, where at least 44 have been killed and thousands of homes reduced to rubble.
“The storm accelerated with unprecedented speed over an ocean warmed by climate shifts, becoming one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes ever to hit land,” Bachelet said.
Low-lying small island states like the Bahamas, which are heavily impacted by climate change, are quickly seeing rights to water, sanitation, health, food, work and adequate housing, she warned. She called for international action to mitigate the impact there.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also denounced the “drastic acceleration of deforestation of the Amazon.
“The fires currently raging across the rainforest may have catastrophic impact on humanity as a whole, but their worst effects are suffered by the women, men and children who live in these areas,” she said.