Welcome for cross party support in historic climate justice debate

The Scottish Human Rights Commission has welcomed the historic debate on Climate Justice in the Scottish Parliament this morning. The Scottish Government motion with amendments from Labour and the Greens is expected to receive unanimous support from the Scottish Parliament this evening and will mark the first time that any legislature in the world has made such a declaration on climate justice - putting human rights at the centre of our response to climate change.

It also welcomes the the commitment to a Climate Justice Fund made by the Minister for Environment and Climate Change Stewart Stevenson, who noted during a debate on climate justice at the Scottish Parliament earlier today that: “It is a travesty that it is the poorest people in the world’s most undeveloped countries who are hardest hit by climate change … This situation cannot continue and the onus is on the international community to take action.”

Professor Alan Miller, Chair of the Commission, said: “The Commission warmly welcomes the cross-party parliamentary support for Scotland championing climate justice - a world first. Additionally, the establishment of a Climate Justice Fund is a positive announcement and another step towards Scotland presenting itself to the world as a model for putting the principles of climate justice into action. The Scottish Government have been pro-active in naming 2012 the ‘year of climate justice’ and as the debate today showed there is a clear appetite from all parties to place human rights at the heart of a meaningful response to the increasingly urgent issue of climate change.

“The debate in the Parliament and the motion expected to pass later today recognises that we must all take responsibility for the effects of climate change. The cross-party approach taken by the Parliament to focus on a human rights centred approach to address the legal, policy and practical elements of climate justice in Scotland and throughout the world should be recognised as world leading.

“Through its forward looking climate change legislation Scotland is also setting an example as a developed country in mitigating the damage caused by its actions which have a disproportionate effect on vulnerable people in developing countries. Additionally, there are opportunities for Scotland by sharing knowledge in renewable technology with developing countries by facilitating public-private partnerships among private companies, universities and governments.

“Climate change is a complex problem and has far reaching impacts on every part of the world, including here in Scotland. Climate change has adverse implications for the full enjoyment of human rights, and international human rights obligations, standards and principles have the potential to inform and strengthen policymaking at every level – local, national and international.”    

Later this month the Commission will address delegates from around 100 national human rights institutions at a United Nations meeting in Geneva on climate change and human rights as part of the Annual Conference of the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights. The Commission also chairs the Working Group on Climate Change and Human Rights in the Commonwealth Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (CFNHRIs).

Update: Read our report from Geneva.

Ahead of the debate today the Scottish Human Rights Commission circulated a briefing to all MSPs which you can read here in Word format.

The Scottish Government announcement is online at the link.