A Moral Imperative: The Human Rights Implications of Climate Change (S. C. Aminzadeh)


Sara C. Aminzadeh


climate change, environment, human rights, social rights, food security, public health, livelihoods


Climate change is increasingly identified as one of the major crises facing the international community in the 21st century. Even conservative forecasts predict dramatic effects to environments, economies, and people around the world. Although climate change is already understood as an environmental problem, and increasingly as an economic one,  the social and human rights implications of climate change are given little discussion. Yet climate change threatens food security, public health, property, and the livelihoods and lives of members of affected communities. Like other environmental issues, climate change threatens the human rights of those living in affected communities.

The ultimate goal of climate change advocacy is to encourage nations to scale back their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to a point where GHG concentrations in the atmosphere stabilize and then decrease to a level that prevents dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. However, the sheer size of the problem and the cost of mitigation have forestalled meaningful engagement and cooperation on the issue. Lawyers and environmental advocates have begun to use litigation and other legal avenues as a way to forge progress. One particularly innovative example is a team of lawyers who recently used a human rights approach to climate change in a petition filed on behalf of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). 

This note aims to continue the discourse prompted by the Inuit Petition and explore related issues on climate change and human rights…


(2007) 30 Hastings International and Comparative Law Review 231.


A Moral Imperative: The Human Rights Implications of Climate