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Andrew Gilmour

Preventing Climate Change Is a Human Rights Issue

Social activists and environmentalists should be better about teaming up. 

Climate change is a human problem.

Climate change is a human problem.

Photographer: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

Every society in the world is going to pay a price for global warming. But it’s the poorest countries and communities who will suffer the most from rising seas and burning lands — and likely also from any drastic measures taken to prevent climate change. The environmental crisis is closely linked to the humanitarian one, and requires the joint action of climate and human rights activists.

They’d seem to be natural allies. They both regard (with good reason) today’s situation as the worst in their movements’ existence. Second,  they share common foes: Leading climate change deniers and environmental despoilers tend to be  dismissive of human rights (Presidents Rodrigo Duterte, Donald Trump, or Jair Bolsonaro, to name but three). Third, both movements are accused of being “elitist” by their opponents, a charge neither group of activists has done enough to overcome.