Climate Justice and the Right to Health – A Special Issue

Health and Human Rights
Volume 16, Issue 1

Climate Justice and the Right to Health – A Special Issue
Mary Robinson, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation-Climate Justice
…In recent years, climate justice is emerging as a discipline that addresses the interlinked challenges of climate change, human rights, and development. At a time when the need for multidisciplinary research is gaining ground, climate justice provides a useful framing for interdisciplinary collaborations.
Climate justice highlights the impacts of climate change on the vulnerable, marginalized, and poor, who are disproportionally affected by extreme weather events, such as floods, storms, and droughts, and slow onset events, such as sea level rise and glacial melt. They are the people who have their homes destroyed, face increasing struggles to feed themselves and their families, and are more susceptible to diseases while having their access to health care diminished.
Climate change is already undermining many of their basic human rights—to food and water, to shelter and health. Climate justice points out that the undermining of these essential rights is an injustice—largely because those who are most affected by the negative impacts are least responsible for the causes of the problem. The concept shows how global develop¬ment issues and climate change are inextricably linked, as for example when the incidence of a disease like malaria, that we have been making progress on eradicating, starts to rise again due to climatic changes….
…Articles in this special issue examine the disproportionate impacts of climate change on vulnerable groups, including indigenous peoples. A case is made for climate change mitigation policies informed by human rights and with clear health and equity co-benefits. The links between climate justice and the right to health are presented, including an analysis of the links between the right to food and the right to health in the context on increasing dependency on food aid of low nutritional value. Several papers present a strong case for human rights law guiding procedural responses to climate change and its negative impacts on health….
…It is important at this juncture, with two international processes working on issues of human development and climate change coming to conclusion in 2015, that the value of a climate justice approach is demonstrated and used to inform these policy frameworks. This special edition is a welcome contribution to this endeavor.