Law vital to climate justice, forum told

Sat, Oct 6, 2012, 01:00

THERE IS a clear role for the legal profession in developing the vision of climate justice, former president Mary Robinson told an international gathering of lawyers in Dublin yesterday.

She appealed to the International Bar Association conference to establish a working group on human rights and climate change yesterday. Mrs Robinson is also the former UN commissioner for human rights, and she established the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice as a centre for leadership, education and advocacy for justice for those particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Giving the George Seward memorial lecture at the conference in memory of the association’s life president, who died earlier this year at the age of 101, she said: “Climate change will be one of the defining attributes of the next century. It is an issue of justice and human rights.”

Climate justice focuses on people, she said. There is evidence that links climate change and human rights. It impinges on the right to food, to water, to health. Recent gains in relation to maternal mortality and hunger are in danger of being wiped away.

An opportunity had opened up in the decision at Durban to have a new agreement by 2015. However, until there was demand from people to act on climate change, politicians would feel able to come home from international climate change conferences without making meaningful decisions. “We need a sense of urgency to force politicians to act,” she said.