Climate change is the greatest threat the world has ever faced, according to a UN expert.

Human-caused climate change is the world’s largest and most pervasive threat to the natural environment and societies, and the poorest countries are paying the highest price, according to a UN expert.

“As a result of climate change, human rights are being impacted and violated all over the world.” “This includes the right to life, health, food, development, self-determination, water and sanitation, work, adequate housing, and freedom from violence, sexual exploitation, trafficking, and slavery,” said Ian Fry, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change, in a report to the General Assembly today.

“Developed economies are perpetrating a massive injustice against the poorest and least able to cope.” Inaction by developed economies and major corporations to take responsibility for drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions has resulted in calls for ‘climate reparations’ to compensate for losses. For example, G20 members are responsible for 78% of emissions over the last decade.”

The report of the Special Rapporteur focuses on mitigation action, loss and damage, access and inclusion, and the protection of climate rights defenders.

“The overall effect of insufficient actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is a human rights catastrophe, and the costs of these climate change-related disasters are enormous,” Fry said.

Those most affected and suffering the most losses are the least able to participate in current decision-making, and more needs to be done to ensure they have a say in their future, including children and youth, women, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and minorities.

Fry also expressed grave concern about climate rights activists. “As individuals and communities have grown increasingly dissatisfied with the lack of action on climate change, they have turned to protests and public interventions to bear witness to the crisis.” Unfortunately, many climate rights defenders are being persecuted by governments and security organizations. Some defenders have even died.”

Indigenous peoples, in particular, have been the target of serious attacks and human rights violations, according to the expert.

Fry presented several recommendations to the General Assembly, including a proposed High-Level Mitigation Commitment Forum in 2023, the formation of a consultative group of finance experts to define the modalities and rules for the operation of a Loss and Damage Finance Facility, and a climate change redress and grievance mechanism to allow vulnerable communities to seek recourse for damages incurred.


Mr. Ian Fry is the first Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change. He was appointed by the Human Rights Council at its 49th session in March 2022 and started his mandate on 1 May 2022. Mr. Fry is an international environmental law and policy expert. His focus has primarily focussed on mitigation policies and loss and damage associated the Paris Agreement, Kyoto Protocol and related instruments. He worked for the Tuvalu government for over 21 years and was appointed as their Ambassador for Climate Change and Environment 2015-2019.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

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