Week of 31 May 2021
What has the European Parliament just said on the environment, climate and human rights?
Our key takeaway: The European Parliament has a clear message for the EU and its member states: integrate the environment and human rights together in policies, actions and practice.
The European Parliament adopted a resolution on 19 May 2021 titled “The effects of climate change on human rights and the role of environmental defenders on this matter”:
- The European Parliament (EP) calls on the European Union to ensure that the connection between the environment, climate and human rights is made in all of its work. It “[s]tresses that the enjoyment, protection and promotion of human rights rooted in human dignity, and a healthy and sustainable planet are interdependent.” It calls on the EU to take a human rights-based approach to climate action (HRBA), and to “strengthen the linkage between human rights and the environment throughout their external action” as well as to support “human rights mechanisms in addressing environmental challenges”. Specifically, the EP calls on the European Commission “to ensure the integration of the issues of climate change and human rights within all relevant EU policies and to ensure the coherence of these policies.”
- The European Parliament pinpoints specific areas where the environment and human rights are firmly inter-twined, including climate, water and biodiversity, with concrete actions to take. For instance, because of “child labour in cobalt mine” and other “human rights violations”, the EP “calls on the Commission to take human rights implications into account when assessing the Union’s energy and transport technology pathways.” The EP “supports the integration of human rights in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework” and calls on the EU “to address water scarcity as a key priority of its legislative and policy agenda.” The EP calls on the EU and its member states “to regularly assess how the external dimension of the European Green Deal can best contribute to a holistic and human rights-based approach with regards to climate action and biodiversity loss.” Of particular note, the EP calls on the EU and its members states “to support, at the next UN General Assembly, the global recognition” of the right to live in a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.”
- The European Parliament underscores the importance of the upcoming EU legislative proposal on mandatory human rights and environmental corporate due diligence, and provides suggestions for further linking the environment, climate and human rights together. The EP states that companies “have the obligation to address the human rights implications of climate change, in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.” The EP further reiterates its call for the EU to “support sustainable and accountable corporate governance as an important element of the European Green Deal”, and for member states to compel human rights due diligence and “hold businesses accountable when it comes to ensuring that they fulfil their due diligence obligations regarding the impact of climate change on human rights, in line with UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.” The EP recommends that the upcoming EU legislative proposal “support and facilitate the development of common impact measuring methodologies for environmental and climate change impacts.”