Leaders told not to leave climate crisis for children to fix

Children use an improvised bridge after Lake Albert (Mwitanzige) flood swept Butyaba Village in Buliisa District in 2020. (Image: File)

The UN Rights Chief, Volker Türk, has challenged and stressed that today’s leaders should be responsible for taking climate action saying global heating is a burning human rights issue, as extreme weather and climate disasters threaten humanity’s universal right to food.

Mr Türk told the Human Rights Council today (Monday) that every member of this Council should take the message to their places advocating for the cause saying children must not be left to act on the matter.

“We must not leave this for our children to fix – no matter how inspiring their activism advocating for a just transition to a green economy. I ask every member of this council to take this clear message out of the Palais des Nations and into every aspect of their work,” he said.

He warned that on the world’s current trajectory, air, food, water and human life itself would be unrecognisable with an average temperature increase by the end of the century soaring to 3°C, well above the 1.5°C limit, as outlined in the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change.

Mr Türk deplored that despite all the alarm bells going off, leaders were still not acting with the determination required and getting stuck in the short term.

“If it is not a human rights issue, what is it? He asked.

The High Commissioner underscored that the right to food was comprehensively threatened by climate change, recalling that there had been a 134 per cent increase in climate-fuelled, flood-related disasters since the turn of the century.

“Not only do extreme weather events and disasters destroy ecosystems and farmers’ livelihoods, but their fast and relentless repetition makes it impossible for communities to rebuild and support themselves,” he said. 

Mr Türk stressed the urgency of ending fossil fuel subsidies, transforming international development and financing institutions into engines of climate action and making this November’s COP28 conference a “decisive game-changer.”

“With millions going hungry in countries which contributed “next to nothing” to the industrial processes which are “killing our environment and violating rights.”

He also called for good governance to ensure that climate funds go to the most affected people and pointed to climate litigation as a way of holding businesses and governments accountable in court.

The UN rights chief said that humanity must not deliver a “future of hunger and suffering” to the next generations, insisting that equipped with the most powerful technological tools in history leaders have the capacity to change the status quo.

“There is still time to act, but that time is now,” Mr Türk insisted.


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