On July 15th, 2019, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, David R. Boyd (pictured) released a special report on the human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. This report starts with a summary of up-to-date climate science and stresses the urgency the magnitude and imminence of the changing climate poses to humanity. He then charts how different human rights establish obligations from states and other capable actors to require action. For example he discusses the right to health, and that in a world with unmitigated climate change health hazards, ranging from more prevalent air- and water-borne diseases to significant mental impacts, will become more frequent and lethal.
Boyd explains that climate change has two distinct human rights dimensions; there are the particular impacts climate change will have on the enjoyment of human rights as illustrated above, and that any approach to successfully and sustainably deal with climate change must take in account human rights challenges. This is paired with a call for states to fulfill their obligations through transparent, accessible, and gender-responsive actions towards a low-carbon and climate-resilient future. Boyd also calls on businesses to implement policies that account for their impacts on both human rights and climate change. Lastly, Boyd includes recommendations that call for action, particularly in the fields of vulnerable communities, ramping up climate finance, and empowering international institutions such as United Nations bodies, to act to ensure cross-border action occurs.