Necessary but Insufficient
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climate change
climate crisis
global heating
global environmental politics
social green theory
human rights
rights of nature


This paper analyses the relevance of human rights to the ongoing climate emergency, with focus on the impacts upon human rights from the effects of global heating, and the prospects for climate mitigation. I argue that a human rights-centric analysis is a necessary but insufficient approach to analysing global heating, and must be supplemented and balanced by an understanding of the rights of nature. Since the effects of the climate emergency erode the enjoyment of human rights worldwide, and disproportionately impact Indigenous and developing societies, global heating is necessarily a problem of human rights. However, a human rights-centric approach is insufficient, since it threatens to perpetuate an anthropocentric orientation which has contributed to the climate crisis. Following the work of Boyd and others, I argue that a rights of nature approach is necessary to safeguard the well-being of ecosystems and animals beyond their utility to humans. This paper also performs a critical analysis of various environmental philosophies aimed at mitigating climate change and their impacts on human rights, with focus on the social green and ecomodernist approaches. The most coherent and defensible approach to climate change-mitigation must substantiate and respect the underlying rights of nature.

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