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Ice Cream and Donkeys (+ the Environmental Justice Foundation)

Published 13th December 2009 - 4 comments - 1509 views -

What have ice cream and donkeys got in common? And no this isn't a joke, sorry to those expecting a witty punch line, there isn't one. In fact, this is quite possibly the most serious post of everything I've written on this platform.

The answer, wait for it - is that they both feature rather highly on an array of human rights websites, but climate change doesn't. 

Back in 2007, a man by the name of George Marshall thought that a good way of testing the commitment of a group to a particular issue was to search for it on their site. That's exactly what he did repeatedly, and on Amnesty's, the world's most prestigious human rights organisation, there wasn't a single mention of climate change. Puzzling given that the IPPC 'estimates that it will generate 150 million refugees by 2050 and, by the reckoning of the Pentagon and MoD, it will become one of the key causes of future conflict'. Moreover, it's worrying. Very worrying. By way of comparison, Marshall then ran another search, using words which had nothing to do with climate change. Hence the name of this post.

I touched on the weak link between human rights and climate change a few weeks back in my post 'They Never Mentioned Climate Change.' Since then I've become ever more intrigued by this issue. On the one hand, you've got comparison after comparison with Nazism and the like. On the other, there seems to be a deliberate distancing by human rights organisations. 'I know that it is an under explored area that will come to have more significance in the future,' one representative working in human rights, told me. Other justifications for a lack of engagement, as revealed by Marshall, are as follows:

1) Climate change is already being dealt with.

2) Climate change is an environmental issue, and therefore outside of our mission.

3) We are uncertain about how we could usefully intervene.

Perturbed by such a lack of engagement, and at the same time inspired by the newly appointed Greenpeace leader Kumi Naidoo's words, I was more than a bit confused. Off I went to talk to the Environmental Justice Foundation to get some much-needed answers: 

This was the first time that anyone I have interviewed really talked about humanity. It made for a very refreshing break from endless politicking, I can tell you.

Don't get me wrong, I love donkeys and even more so, ice cream, but my hope now is that as COP15 draws to a close at the end of this week, human rights organisations begin to prioritise climate change.

[You can read Marshall's fascinating findings in full by clicking here.]

[And you can get hold of the report Tori mentioned, No Place Like Home, by clicking here.]

Category: Climate Politics, | Tags: greenpeace, environmental justice foundation, mod, kumi naidoos,


Aija Vanaga on 14th December 2009:

There still is a debate what is climate change, and climate cange is not jet affecting human right and we usually do not work on prevetion.

Lara on 14th December 2009:

I agree with your first point. The debate about what climate change is continues. However, it is affecting human life and human rights, in many countries.

Aija Vanaga on 14th December 2009:

I do not feel that climate change would affect human rights in countries I have been or seen. It is somehow not in our sightview as hunger .. It existes, but we do not have exact clue where and how. So it makes it difficult to understand.

Lara Smallman on 14th December 2009:

In Europe it is definitely a case of out of sight out of mind, but there are plenty of instances of visible climate change happening right now -

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