Friday, December 12, 2008

An Open Letter to Kevin Rudd

Greenhouse Emissions Target Must Uphold Human Rights

12 December 2008

Dear Prime Minister

Upholding fundamental principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and
the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;

Reaffirming faith in the fundamental human rights of men and women of
nations large and small and holding that recognition of the inherent dignity
of equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the
foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world;

Noting that disregard and contempt for human rights have outraged the
conscience of humankind;

Noting that, through ratification, Australia has agreed to respect, protect
and fulfil the rights contained within international human rights

Noting the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
("IPCC"), particularly that anthropogenic climate change is a reality and
that this process is the result of human activities;

Noting that international law prohibits a State from injuring persons and
properties in another State, as derived from the famous Trail Smelter case
(1938/1941) 3 R.I.A.A. 1905;

Holding that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
("UNFCCC") remains the key international global framework for preventing
dangerous climate change;

Noting the adoption of the Bali Action Plan, through which the Australian
Government agreed with IPCC findings that Australia must reduce emissions by
between 25% and 40% by 2020;

Noting that consistent with international treaty law, a State party to a
treaty is required to perform its obligations in good faith;

Concerned that climate change threatens human rights of people throughout
the world, particularly those who are most vulnerable; 

Concerned that climate change poses an unprecedented threat to the people of
Pacific island nations;

Concerned that human rights threatened include civil and political rights to
self-determination and freedom of movement; the right to property; economic,
social and cultural rights to food and water, an adequate standard of
living, housing, health and enjoyment of culture; 

Holding that, in any event, states have a positive obligation to act;

Commending the United Nations Resolution A/HRC/7/L.21/Rev.1 that recognised
that climate change poses an immediate and far-reaching threat to people and
communities around the world and has implications for the full enjoyment of
human rights;

Commending the United Nations Working Paper E/CN.4/Sub.2/2005/28 that
examined the human rights situation of Indigenous peoples in states and
territories threatened with extinction for environmental reasons, and that
this threat "is not merely predictable but inevitable, unless the [climate
change] process is halted or reversed.";

Commending the Australian Government's support of the United Nations Draft
Resolution calling on the UN Security Council to take urgent action on
security threats posed by climate change to peoples around the world;

Commending the Australian Government's submission to the Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights on the relationship between climate change and
human rights, in particular that "[m]itigation of global greenhouse gas
emissions plays a vital role in reducing the risk posed by climate change to
human rights in our region and Australia's domestic initiatives in this
regard and active participation in the UNFCCC process will complement our
assistance for adaptation and resilience building in the Asia-Pacific"; and

Recognising that in announcing the emissions reduction target for 2020 the
Australian Government has the opportunity to provide global human rights
leadership on climate change;

We, the undersigned, respectfully, call upon the Australian Government to
announce an emissions reduction target for 2020 that will contribute to the
protection of human rights from climate change. 

Australia has existing obligations under national and international law to
prevent the impact of climate change on human rights. The Australian
Government needs to avoid harmful emissions nationally in order to fulfil
such obligations.

We urge the Australian Government to adopt a human rights approach to
climate change by announcing a target of deep cuts in greenhouse gas
emissions of 40% or more by 2020 so as to provide global human rights
leadership in mitigation action on climate change.


1.      Fiona McLeod SC, Barrister

2.      Brian Walters SC, Barrister

3.      Jane Needham SC, Barrister

4.      Douglas Murphy SC, Barrister

5.      Norman O'Bryan SC, Barrister

6.      Stephen Keim SC, Barrister

7.      Kate Eastman, Barrister

8.      Matthew Baird, Barrister

9.      Chris McGrath, Barrister

10.  Adam Bandt, Barrister

11.  Aaron Fraatz, Barrister

12.  Dr Peter Cashman, Barrister/Associate Professor, Faculty of Law,
University of Sydney

13.  Professor David Kinley, Chair in Human Rights Law, Faculty of Law,
University of Sydney 

14.  Professor Barry W. Brook, Director, Research Institute for Climate
Change and Sustainability, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The
University of Adelaide

15.  Dr Tim Stephens, Senior Lecturer, Sydney Centre for International Law,
Faculty of Law, University of Sydney

16.  Dr Mark Diesendorf, Deputy Director, Institute of Environmental
Studies, University of New South Wales

17.  Ben Boer, former Professor in Environmental Law, Faculty of Law,
University of Sydney

18.  Dr Jane McAdam, Senior Lecturer and Director of International Law
Programs, Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales

19.  Professor David Farrier, Faculty of Law, University of Wollongong

20.  Warwick Baird, Legal Consultant

21.  Keely Boom, Legal Officer, Australian Climate Justice Program

22.  Stephen Leonard, Australian Climate Justice Program 

23.  Joseph Kennedy, Lawyer

24.  Caroline Law, Lawyer


The Hon Mr Wayne Swan MP

The Hon Peter Garrett MP

Senator the Hon Kim Carr

The Hon Martin Ferguson MP

The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

The Hon Tony Burke MP

The Hon Julia Gillard MP

The Hon Lindsay Tanner MP

Senator the Hon Penny Wong

1 comment:

Antonio M. Claparols said...

Climate Change is real and will destroy biodiversity and humankind.
all life on the planet is in peril.
We must abate it by reducing all green house gas emissions and go to clean renewable energy right away.