UN Urged World to Translate Climate ‘Promises’ into Real Action

Independent UN human rights experts issued an urgent demand on Friday to “move from promises to action” on the conclusions of the UN’s momentous COP26 climate summit, which marked the 35th anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development. 

More than three dozen UN experts signed a statement calling for greater transparency and rigorous follow-up on commitments made in Glasgow last month, such as the 100-strong pledge to end deforestation by 2030, reduce methane emissions by 30% by the end of this decade, and establish a ratchet system requiring States to strengthen their commitments on an annual basis. 

The experts pointed out that the world’s largest and wealthiest economies failed to make sufficiently strong commitments to keep global warming to 1.5°C the  and that the Conference also failed to ensure sufficient progress on the loss and damage funds, leaving many climate-vulnerable countries without the resources needed to shift to cleaner energy and cope with increasingly extreme weather disasters. 

The Paris Agreement of 2015 and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are based on the need for equity between the Global North and the Global South. 

Economic and social development, poverty reduction, and food security are among the first and most important concerns for emerging countries, under both documents. 

Climate change affects everyone, according to the Paris Agreement, and countries must respect, promote, and consider their respective obligations on human rights, health, indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, people with disabilities, and people in vulnerable situations, as well as gender equality when taking action to address it. 

Parties to the Paris Agreement also agreed to link financial support for climate-resilient development to climate-resilient development. 

States must act in conformity with the principles supporting the right to development to confront the dual challenge of the climate emergency and the COVID pandemic, as well as to strengthen readiness and resilience for natural disasters and future pandemics. 

State parties must ensure swift follow-up by defining and making public detailed implementation plans, according to UN-appointed experts, in order to ensure that COP26 pledges are followed in the spirit of the Convention and the Paris Agreement. 

These plans must include specified timelines, financial resources, a fair transition that incorporates gender views, and transparent review systems. 

The Declaration on the Right to Development, which was signed 35 years ago, promised that everyone has the right to participate in, contribute to, and benefit from economic, social, cultural, and political development. 

It also emphasised the importance of removing historical and systemic barriers, such as racism and racial discrimination, in order to promote equal development chances for all people. 

The world is currently facing a climate emergency of unprecedented proportions, and the window of opportunity to keep those pledges is fast closing. States must move beyond words to actions. 

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