Why our role in climate change is a violation of our human rights

It may be unthinkable, but heavy pollution is a violation of human rights argues an Australian scientist in the Netherlands. As Lotte Kamphuis explores, current generations are therefore being called upon to take rigorous action against climate change.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that every human being is entitled to the protection of his or her basic human rights, independently of where and when he or she was born. Take for instance, the right for food and shelter however, owing to climate change these are at stake. If we do not take decisive action on this matter, basic human rights of future generations are being violated. It is this premise that the Australian scientist Peter Lawrence argues in his new thesis at Tilburg University, according to Dutch student newspaper Universe.

It is therefore alarming that environmental crime such as the dumping of and illegal trade in hazardous waste; is the most profitable and fastest growing area of international criminal activity, writes Universe in another article. In 2010 trading company Trafigura was convicted of illegally exporting the toxic waste to Africa and fined one million euros. Illegal wildlife trade in endangered species by smugglers is also seen as environmental crime. That’s before we even get onto the more widespread littering that occurs every day across the globe. It is the lack of cross-border legislation and the logistical problems any such action would cause that means governments struggle to take firm action against these illegal acts to harm the environment. In addition, environmental criminals often take advantage of situations where government and consequently law enforcement are at their weakest.

Needless to say, environmental crime isn’t going away and if we want to protect the basic human rights of the next generation, it needs to be tackled. In addition, new ideas, theories, methods and findings are necessary in research and applied areas related to the environmental law enforcement. In Folia, a Triodos Bank chairman put forward the idea that banks should focus more on sustainable development, for instance by investing in wind farms. This is just one of the many initiatives that have arisen as a consequence of the United Nations work on the matter. Yet, it is up to international community to agree on the combination of legal principles in achieving an effective global treaty on climate change and environmental development. This is essential to ensure that agreements are respected and protected for this generation and the future.

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