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  • Cited by 2
  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: November 2020

3 - Using Human Rights Law to Address the Impacts of Climate Change: Early Reflections on the Carbon Majors Inquiry

from Part II - International Law and International Adjudication


This chapter considers the role of human rights law in attributing responsibility for harm associated with the impacts of climate change. The suitability of human rights law to address harm caused by climate change depends upon whether a victim can substantiate a claim that a duty bearer has contributed to climate change, in such a way as to amount to a human rights violation. Qualifying the effects of climate change as human rights violations, however, poses technical obstacles concerning causality, retrospectivity, apportionment, as well as the provision of an adequate remedy. Yet, these obstacles are not insurmountable. As scientific knowledge improves, tracing causal connections between particular emissions and resulting harms is becoming less difficult. This chapter looks at the Carbon Majors petition, which is currently under investigation by the Human Rights Commission of the Philippines, to critically appraise the role of human rights law in solving complex questions associated with responsibility for the impacts of climate change.

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