Tag Archives: United States

Keynote Address: Indigenous Peoples and Global Climate Change: Intercultural Models of Climate Equality (R. Tsosie)

Author(s)

Rebecca Tsosie

Keywords

climate change, United States, tribal governance, human rights, Native Nations, development, environmental policy, energy development, decision-making

Abstract

This essay discusses the place of indigenous peoples within the politics of climate change. In the United States, contemporary policymakers understand federally-recognized Indian tribes as “domestic dependent nations.” In that capacity, tribal governments have the power to address many environmental issues arising on their reservation lands and impacting their members. At the level of international policy, Native Nations are designated as “indigenous peoples,” with a distinctive set of human rights related to their unique identity as land-based communities with longstanding cultural connections to their environments. Sometimes those two identities operate consistently, allowing Native Nations to preclude forms of energy development that threaten their lands, communities, and cultures, as the Navajo Nation did when it enacted the Dine Natural Resources Protection Act of 2005, which banned uranium mining within Navajo Indian Country. Sometimes, however, the identities may be in tension. For example, coal and oil extraction may benefit the economic interests of Native Nations which hold ownership interests in these resources, but may jeopardize the subsistence lifeways of other Native peoples who depend upon the integrity of their lands and waters, as well as the plants, animals and fish in those natural environments. In the era of climate change, these tensions are becoming particularly apparent, forcing Native peoples and policymakers to make difficult decisions about the optimal energy policies to guide the future. This essay compares the predominant model of decision-making, which uses a utilitarian cost-benefit analysis to construct the optimal policy to serve the interests of national and tribal governments in the present day, with the type of long-range thinking used by many land-based indigenous communities to promote sustainable use of lands and resources for several generations. The essay concludes that the current challenge of climate change poses an opportunity to transform our ways of thinking about environmental policy and energy development.

Citation

(2010) Journal of Environmental Law and Litigation 25 (1)

Paper

Keynote Address : Indigenous Peoples and Global Climate Change: Intercultural Models of Climate Equity

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Human Rights Implications for Climate Change Negotiations (D. B. Hunter)

Author(s)

David B. Hunter

Keywords

human rights implications of climate change, climate change negotiations, United States, mitigation, adaptation, human rights approach

Abstract

EXTRACT

“According to John Holdren, the Science Advisor to President Obama, humanity can only respond to climate change in three ways. We can mitigate climate change, for example by reducing greenhouse gas emissions; we can adapt to climate change, for example by defending our coastlines; or we can suffer from climate change.

Given current emission levels and projected climate change impacts, we are inevitably going to do some of all three. A human rights approach, the subject of this Article, puts the focus on those who will suffer from climate change, in the hopes of building the political will to compel humanity to put more resources into both adapting and mitigating climate change.”

Citation

(2009) 11 Oregon Review of International Law 331

Paper

Human Rights Implications for Climate Change Negotiations

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Climate Change, Human Rights, and the Rights to be Cold (J. Harrington)

Author(s)

Joanna Harrington

Keywords

climate change, human rights, United States, human right to be cold, greenhouse gases, human rights violations

Abstract

“I. INTRODUCTION
In December 2005, the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) (re-named the Inuit Circumpolar Council in July 2006) publicly lodged a lengthy petition against the United States with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (the Commission),1 a Washington D.C.-based organization that is one of two regional human rights bodies operating under the auspices of the Organization of American States (OAS). The petition alleged that the United States, as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, was committing various human rights violations against the Inuit residents of the Arctic through its climate change and global warming practices and policies, including its decision not to ratify Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Kyoto Protocol).2 In essence, the United States was to be sued for violating the human right to be cold. A year later (according to news reports since no verification can be found in the documentation posted on the website maintained by the Commission),3 the ICC received a letter of rejection from the Commission indicating that the ICC petition had failed to meet the basic requirements of admissibility for further[…]”

Citation

(2006-07) 18 Fordham Environmental Law Review 513

Paper

Climate Change, Human Rights, and the Right to be Cold

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Enforcing Environmental Human Rights: Selected Strategies of US NGOs (J. Cassel)

Author(s)

Jennifer Cassel

Keywords

environmental harm, human rights violations, international human rights law, NGO’s, US, United States, environmental human rights

Abstract

In spite of the clear link between environmental harm and human rights violations, international human rights law which contemplates environmental destruction as a violation of human rights has only recently begun to emerge, and clear definitions of environmental human rights have yet to be formulated. Scholars in the field have proposed different concepts of environmental rights, including environmental rights as new, separate human rights, and environmental rights as encompassed within previously established human rights. Three non-governmental organizations, Earthjustice, the Center for International Environmental Law (“CIEL”), and Earthrights, have strategically used those concepts in their pursuit of enforcing environmental human rights. Earthjustice’s strategy has involved working through the United Nations system toward establishing environmental rights as enforceable law. CIEL has pursued environmental rights enforcement by submitting petitions to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (“IACHR”). Finally, Earthrights International has focused on submitting amicus briefs in litigation in US federal courts under the Alien Torts Claims Act. Of the three strategies used by these organizations, CIEL’s strategy of petitioning the IACHR to recognize the violation of well-established human rights by means of environmental degradation has been most successful in enforcing environmental rights claims thus far. By continuing to petition regional tribunals like the IACHR to enforce both concepts of environmental rights, as well as pressing international bodies to recognize such rights, international law may finally come to recognize the inherent intertwining of human rights and the environment.

Citation

(2008) 6 Northwestern Journal of International Human Rights 104.

Paper

Enforcing Environmental Human Rights: Selected Strategies of US
NGOs

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Human Rights and Environmental Regulation (R. M. Bratspies)

Author(s)

Rebecca M. Bratspies

Keywords

environment, regulation, BP Oil Spill, United States, US, legal obligations, participations, fairness, accountability, legitimacy

Abstract

Because environmental regulators exercise vast discretion against a background of scientific uncertainty, the background assumptions they use to guide their decisionmaking are particularly influential. This article suggests that were federal regulators to view themselves as human rights decisionmakers, we might well see a new kind of regulatory decisionmaking emerge–one not only more responsive and transparent but also more likely to enjoy the trust of the American public. Drawing from the BP Oil Spill and the United States regulatory response to climate change this article shows how human rights norms might enrich domestic regulatory processes and help environmental regulators implement their statutory mission of protecting the public welfare. It demonstrates how interpreting domestic legal obligations through the lens of human rights would enhance a commitment to participation, fairness and accountability, thereby making the domestic regulatory process not only better and fairer, but also more likely to be perceived as legitimate by the general public. The article concludes by pointing out some key obstacles the human rights approach for achieving environmental ends.

Citation

(2012) 19 New York University Environmental Law Journal 225.

Paper

Human Rights and Environmental Regulation

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