In response to reports that President Donald Trump is expected to pull the USA from the Paris Agreement on climate change, Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA said:
“Let there be no doubt, President Trump’s expected decision to withdraw the USA from the global climate deal is an assault on a range of human rights putting millions of people’s lives and wellbeing around the world in severe jeopardy. By refusing to join other nations in taking necessary steps to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change, the President is effectively saying: ‘Let them drown, burn and starve’.”
“Climate change is one of the most pervasive threats to human societies that the world has ever experienced. It is also one that can quickly and irreversibly spill out of control. As glaciers melt, lakes and riverbeds dry up, forests burn, crops die out and heatwaves rage, it will have devastating impact on human rights. It has the potential to make social inequality, famine and the refugee crisis even more acute. Hundreds of millions of people would be denied their rights to life, to health, food, water and housing. Those in vulnerable situations in every continent around the world, especially children, will be among the worst hit.”
“We urge President Trump not to set the world on a deadly collision course with disaster, war and insecurity. All states must move away from fossil fuels or risk provoking a human rights catastrophe of epic and irreversible proportions.”
The Paris Agreement is the the world’s most ambitious climate change agreement. One hundred and twenty five countries have ratified the agreement, which entered into force in November 2016.
Under the Paris Agreement, states commit to holding the increase in global average temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels and striving toward limiting the increase to 1.5 degrees, which is the level determined by scientists as the maximum to avoid disastrous climate change.
The USA is the world’s second largest contributor to carbon emissions and world’s largest economy and so should provide the much needed technology and funds to implement global climate programs to assist developing countries reduce emissions and assist their peoples to protect themselves from the effects of climate change.
Under the Paris Agreement, the United States had committed to reduce emissions by 26–28% below 2005 levels by 2025, which itself would not have been consistent with limiting climate change to below 2°C.
Failure to prevent dangerous levels of climate change would have a disastrous consequences for human rights. Without strong action to prevent it, climate change is expected to cause 250,000 deaths per year between 2030 and 2050 due to malaria, malnutrition, diarrhoea and heat stress; increase the number of people at risk of hunger by 600 million by 2080 and displace 330 million people through flooding. Hundreds of millions of people would be denied their rights to life, to health, food, water, housing and other rights. The adverse effects are likely to be disproportionately experienced by those living in poverty, particularly women and girls, Indigenous Peoples and others disadvantaged due to discrimination.