Commission joins global human rights alliance calling on governments to take rights based climate change action

The Scottish Human Rights Commission has joined with over 100 of its global allies to call on governments around the world to boost climate action in line with their human rights obligations.

The call from the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) comes in an open letter to countries (“State Parties”) that have ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), urging them to ensure human rights are at the heart of climate change policy.

The letter follows a successful three-day human rights symposium hosted by GANHRI in partnership with the Scottish Human Rights Commission, held in parallel with COP26. The detailed online talks saw around 50 National Human Rights Institutions and expert speakers explore how human rights should shape the response to the climate change emergency.

Marking the close of the symposium, GANHRI now urges State Parties to commit to six critical actions:

  • Raise emissions reduction targets to close the gap between current nationally determined contributions and the rates necessary to limit warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade. These targets should be implemented through realistic and specified reduction pathways.
  • Strengthen adaptation efforts to address the existing human rights impacts of climate change. For example, the rights to life, health and an adequate standard of living, including food, housing and water.
  • Ensure that any potential framework for emissions trading delivers an overall mitigation of global emissions.
  • Enhance cooperation to make additional financial and other resources available to respond to climate change.
  • Respect, protect and fulfil human rights in any actions they take to address climate change.
  • Ensure the participation of non-state actors at COP26, for example, National Human Rights Institutions, communities affected by climate change and environmental human rights defenders.

Diego Quiroz is Policy and International Officer at the Scottish Human Rights Commission. He says:

“COP26 is an important opportunity to drive the global response needed to tackle the human rights issues associated with climate change, such as the rights to life, water, food and housing.

“National Human Rights Institutions can play a key role in securing accountability for human rights within climate policy and the Commission was proud to welcome our sister organisations from around the world to this global symposium.

“As COP26 proceeds, the Commission joins our global allies in this call to states to strengthen climate action in line with their human rights obligations.

“Here at home, we have also recently welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to incorporating the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment in a new Human Rights Bill for Scotland, and will continue to work with them to make this right real and meaningful.”


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Notes to editors

  1. News release 1 November Human rights must be addressed at COP26: UK Human Rights Bodies (
  2. News release 3 November: COP26: Talks begin to boost human rights response to climate emergency (
  3. The Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions represents more than 100 National Human Rights Institutions worldwide, including the Scottish Human Rights Commission.