Climate Change & Sustainability

a workstream within the Human Rights for Future Generations Programme

Many effects of our current policies and lifestyles have their full effect in the future: The environment transmits harms and benefits to our descendants centuries and millennia away. This brings up genuine intergenerational questions as environmental policies have the potential not only to increase the extent of human rights protection in the future but also to decrease the protection of human rights in the present.

In the Climate Change & Sustainability workstream, we will approach a number of issues in our project, for example: How should we evaluate potentially catastrophic impacts of current pollution on future human rights in case the size of these impacts is shrouded in large uncertainty? Who has the responsibility to protect future generations from environmental risks and are there duties to promote the fulfilment of these responsibilities? If there is insufficient action to prevent dangerous climate change, where should we set the priorities for the next steps? Should we strengthen the possibility of litigation in the context of environmental problems? Can a human rights framework deal with the distinctive character of environmental harms, such as the fact that their cause and their effect is often dispersed across innumerable agents? 

Much of the work undertaken also looks at how we should conceive institutional obligations to protect future generation's interests.