Why Climate Change Is a Threat to Human Rights | Mary Robinson | TED Talks
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Why Climate Change Is a Threat to Human Rights | Mary Robinson | TED Talks

September 21, 2019


A question I’m often asked is, where did I get my passion
for human rights and justice? It started early. I grew up in the west of Ireland, wedged between four brothers, two older than me and two younger than me. So of course I had to be
interested in human rights, and equality and justice, and using my elbows! (Laughter) And those issues stayed
with me and guided me, and in particular, when I was elected the first
woman President of Ireland, from 1990 to 1997. I dedicated my presidency to having a space for those who felt
marginalized on the island of Ireland, and bringing together communities
from Northern Ireland with those from the Republic, trying to build peace. And I went as the first Irish president
to the United Kingdom and met with Queen Elizabeth II, and also welcomed to my
official residence — which we call “Áras an Uachtaráin,”
the house of the president — members of the royal family, including, notably, the Prince of Wales. And I was aware that at the time
of my presidency, Ireland was a country beginning
a rapid economic progress. We were a country that was benefiting
from the solidarity of the European Union. Indeed, when Ireland first joined
the European Union in 1973, there were parts of the country
that were considered developing, including my own beloved
native county, County Mayo. I led trade delegations
here to the United States, to Japan, to India, to encourage investment,
to help to create jobs, to build up our economy, to build up our health system,
our education — our development. What I didn’t have to do as president was buy land on mainland Europe, so that Irish citizens could go there
because our island was going underwater. What I didn’t have to think about, either as president
or as a constitutional lawyer, was the implications
for the sovereignty of the territory because of the impact of climate change. But that is what President Tong,
of the Republic of Kiribati, has to wake up every morning
thinking about. He has bought land in Fiji
as an insurance policy, what he calls, “migration with dignity,” because he knows that his people
may have to leave their islands. As I listened to President Tong
describing the situation, I really felt that this was a problem
that no leader should have to face. And as I heard him speak
about the pain of his problems, I thought about Eleanor Roosevelt. I thought about her
and those who worked with her on the Commission on Human Rights,
which she chaired in 1948, and drew up the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. For them, it would have been unimaginable that a whole country
could go out of existence because of human-induced climate change. I came to climate change not as
a scientist or an environmental lawyer, and I wasn’t really impressed
by the images of polar bears or melting glaciers. It was because of the impact on people, and the impact on their rights — their rights to food and safe water,
health, education and shelter. And I say this with humility, because I came late
to the issue of climate change. When I served as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997 to 2002, climate change wasn’t
at the front of my mind. I don’t remember making
a single speech on climate change. I knew that there was another
part of the United Nations — the UN Convention on Climate Change — that was dealing with
the issue of climate change. It was later when I started
to work in African countries on issues of development and human rights. And I kept hearing
this pervasive sentence: “Oh, but things are so much worse now,
things are so much worse.” And then I explored what was behind that; it was about changes in the climate — climate shocks, changes in the weather. I met Constance Okollet, who had formed a women’s group
in Eastern Uganda, and she told me that
when she was growing up, she had a very normal life in her village
and they didn’t go hungry, they knew that the seasons would come
as they were predicted to come, they knew when to sow
and they knew when to harvest, and so they had enough food. But, in recent years, at the time of this conversation, they had nothing
but long periods of drought, and then flash flooding, and then more drought. The school had been destroyed, livelihoods had been destroyed, their harvest had been destroyed. She forms this women’s group
to try to keep her community together. And this was a reality
that really struck me, because of course,
Constance Okollet wasn’t responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions
that were causing this problem. Indeed, I was very struck
about the situation in Malawi in January of this year. There was an unprecedented
flooding in the country, it covered about a third of the country, over 300 people were killed, and hundreds of thousands
lost their livelihoods. And the average person in Malawi emits about 80 kg of CO2 a year. The average US citizen emits
about 17.5 metric tons. So those who are suffering
disproportionately don’t drive cars, don’t have electricity,
don’t consume very significantly, and yet they are feeling more and more the impacts of the changes in the climate, the changes that are preventing them
from knowing how to grow food properly, and knowing how
to look after their future. I think it was really
the importance of the injustice that really struck me very forcibly. And I know that we’re not able
to address some of that injustice because we’re not on course
for a safe world. Governments around the world agreed
at the conference in Copenhagen, and have repeated it
at every conference on climate, that we have to stay
below two degrees Celsius of warming above pre-Industrial standards. But we’re on course
for about four degrees. So we face an existential threat
to the future of our planet. And that made me realize that climate change is the greatest threat
to human rights in the 21st century. And that brought me then
to climate justice. Climate justice responds
to the moral argument — both sides of the moral argument — to address climate change. First of all, to be on the side of those who are
suffering most and are most effected. And secondly, to make sure that they’re not left behind
again, when we start to move and start to address climate change
with climate action, as we are doing. In our very unequal world today, it’s very striking how many
people are left behind. In our world of 7.2 billion people,
about 3 billion are left behind. 1.3 billion don’t have access
to electricity, and they light their homes
with kerosene and candles, both of which are dangerous. And in fact they spend a lot of their
tiny income on that form of lighting. 2.6 billion people cook on open fires — on coal, wood and animal dung. And this causes
about 4 million deaths a year from indoor smoke inhalation, and of course, most of those
who die are women. So we have a very unequal world, and we need to change
from “business as usual.” And we shouldn’t underestimate
the scale and the transformative nature of the change which will be needed, because we have to go to zero
carbon emissions by about 2050, if we’re going to stay below
two degrees Celsius of warming. And that means we have to leave
about two-thirds of the known resources of fossil fuels in the ground. It’s a very big change, and it means that obviously, industrialized countries
must cut their emissions, must become much more energy-efficient, and must move as quickly as possible
to renewable energy. For developing countries
and emerging economies, the problem and the challenge
is to grow without emissions, because they must develop;
they have very poor populations. So they must develop without emissions,
and that is a different kind of problem. Indeed, no country in the world
has actually grown without emissions. All the countries have developed
with fossil fuels, and then may be moving
to renewable energy. So it is a very big challenge, and it requires the total support
of the international community, with the necessary finance and technology,
and systems and support, because no country can make itself safe
from the dangers of climate change. This is an issue that requires
complete human solidarity. Human solidarity, if you like,
based on self-interest — because we are all in this together, and we have to work together to ensure that we reach
zero carbon by 2050. The good news is that change is happening, and it’s happening very fast. Here in California, there’s a very ambitious
emissions target to cut emissions. In Hawaii, they’re passing legislation to have 100 percent
renewable energy by 2045. And governments are very ambitious
around the world. In Costa Rica, they have committed
to being carbon-neutral by 2021. In Ethiopia, the commitment
is to be carbon-neutral by 2027. Apple have pledged that their factories
in China will use renewable energy. And there is a race on at the moment to convert electricity
from tidal and wave power, in order that we can leave
the coal in the ground. And that change is both welcome
and is happening very rapidly. But it’s still not enough, and the political will
is still not enough. Let me come back to President Tong
and his people in Kiribati. They actually could be able to live
on their island and have a solution, but it would take a lot of political will. President Tong told me
about his ambitious idea to either build up or even float
the little islands where his people live. This, of course, is beyond
the resources of Kiribati itself. It would require great solidarity
and support from other countries, and it would require
the kind of imaginative idea that we bring together when we want
to have a space station in the air. But wouldn’t it be wonderful
to have this engineering wonder and to allow a people to remain
in their sovereign territory, and be part of the community of nations? That is the kind of idea
that we should be thinking about. Yes, the challenges
of the transformation we need are big, but they can be solved. We are actually, as a people, very capable of coming together
to solve problems. I was very conscious of this
as I took part this year in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second
World War in 1945. 1945 was an extraordinary year. It was a year when the world faced what must have seemed almost
insoluble problems — the devastation of the world wars,
particularly the Second World War; the fragile peace that had
been brought about; the need for a whole
economic regeneration. But the leaders of that time
didn’t flinch from this. They had the capacity, they had
a sense of being driven by never again must the world
have this kind of problem. And they had to build structures
for peace and security. And what did we get?
What did they achieve? The Charter of the United Nations, the Bretton Woods institutions,
as they’re called, The World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. A Marshall Plan for Europe,
a devastated Europe, to reconstruct it. And indeed a few years later, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 2015 is a year that is similar
in its importance to 1945, with similar challenges
and similar potential. There will be two big summits this year: the first one, in September in New York, is the summit for the sustainable
development goals. And then the summit in Paris in December,
to give us a climate agreement. The sustainable development goals
are intended to help countries to live sustainably,
in tune with Mother Earth, not to take out of Mother Earth
and destroy ecosystems, but rather, to live in harmony
with Mother Earth, by living under sustainable development. And the sustainable development goals will come into operation for all countries on January 1, 2016. The climate agreement — a binding climate agreement — is needed because
of the scientific evidence that we’re on a trajectory
for about a four-degree world and we have to change course
to stay below two degrees. So we need to take steps
that will be monitored and reviewed, so that we can keep increasing
the ambition of how we cut emissions, and how we move more rapidly
to renewable energy, so that we have a safe world. The reality is that this issue
is much too important to be left to politicians
and to the United Nations. (Laughter) It’s an issue for all of us, and it’s an issue where we need
more and more momentum. Indeed, the face of
the environmentalist has changed, because of the justice dimension. It’s now an issue
for faith-based organizations, under very good leadership
from Pope Francis, and indeed, the Church of England, which is divesting from fossil fuels. It’s an issue for the business community, and the good news is that the business community
is changing very rapidly — except for the fossil fuel industries — (Laughter) Even they are beginning
to slightly change their language — but only slightly. But business is not only moving rapidly
to the benefits of renewable energy, but is urging politicians
to give them more signals, so that they can move even more rapidly. It’s an issue for the trade
union movement. It’s an issue for the women’s movement. It’s an issue for young people. I was very struck when I learned
that Jibreel Khazan, one of the Greensboro Four who had
taken part in the Woolworth sit-ins, said quite recently that climate change is the lunch counter
moment for young people. So, lunch counter moment
for young people of the 21st century — the sort of real human rights issue
of the 21st century, because he said it is
the greatest challenge to humanity and justice in our world. I recall very much
the Climate March last September, and that was a huge momentum, not just in New York,
but all around the world. and we have to build on that. I was marching with some
of The Elders family, and I saw a placard
a little bit away from me, but we were wedged so closely together — because after all, there were 400,000
people out in the streets of New York — so I couldn’t quite get to that placard, I would have just liked to have been
able to step behind it, because it said, “Angry Grannies!” (Laughter) That’s what I felt. And I have five grandchildren now, I feel very happy as an Irish grandmother
to have five grandchildren, and I think about their world, and what it will be
like when they will share that world with about 9 billion other people in 2050. We know that inevitably it will
be a climate-constrained world, because of the emissions
we’ve already put up there, but it could be a world that is much
more equal and much fairer, and much better for health,
and better for jobs and better for energy security, than the world we have now, if we have switched sufficiently
and early enough to renewable energy, and no one is left behind. No one is left behind. And just as we’ve been
looking back this year — in 2015 to 1945, looking back 70 years — I would like to think
that they will look back, that world will look back
35 years from 2050, 35 years to 2015, and that they will say, “Weren’t they good
to do what they did in 2015? We really appreciate that they took
the decisions that made a difference, and that put the world
on the right pathway, and we benefit now from that pathway,” that they will feel that somehow
we took our responsibilities, we did what was done
in 1945 in similar terms, we didn’t miss the opportunity, we lived up to our responsibilities. That’s what this year is about. And somehow for me, it’s captured in words of somebody
that I admired very much. She was a mentor of mine,
she was a friend, she died much too young, she was an extraordinary personality, a great champion of the environment: Wangari Maathai. Wangari said once, “In the course of history, there comes a time
when humanity is called upon to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground.” And that’s what we have to do. We have to reach
a new level of consciousness, a higher moral ground. And we have to do it this year
in those two big summits. And that won’t happen unless
we have the momentum from people around the world who say: “We want action now, we want to change course, we want a safe world, a safe world for future generations, a safe world for our children
and our grandchildren, and we’re all in this together.” Thank you. (Applause)

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  1. Crossing my fingers that "Global Warming" finally kicks back in this winter after such a long hiatus… I really don't like the cold…

  2. +Alex Curtis "The stupidity of climate change deniers is intolerable." Yup, I totally agree, spot on Alex….The only trouble with what you have wrote is that the climate has been changing for the entire duration of it's existence!!! It is a natural phenomenon you halfwit. What you are really saying is that you support a "CARBON TAX" on behalf of your "GOD" which is the GOVERNMENT!!! Truth is that the world has been cooling for the last 17 years, the world is greener with vegetation than it has ever been (photosynthesis) because of Co2 emissions. The Arctic has the largest mass of ice in recorded history, the polar bear population is at it's all time highest (20,000) in recorded history, most of which history is a lie spilled to the world's sheeple by the controlling interests on this planet. What is most perplexing is that a washed up old bag of "STATIST" bones like this twisted old bint, is allowed to be given a platform by TedTalks? However, For those who know that TedTalks is nothing but another arm of the Zionist propaganda (Greater Is-Ra-El) project, it will come as no surprise that this twisted statist communist fruitcake is given a free pass to continue to deceive the masses. YOU SHEEPLE must go listen to the NWO sideshow that was the address of the "world leaders" in USA congress from 23rd of Sept to the 28th of Sept. All calling for sustainable development via "AGENDA 21 PROTOCOLS", carbon taxes, a one world government, a one world religion, a one world army and police force, a new world order. WAKE THE 'FLOCK' UP YOU BRAINWASHED SHEEPLE!!!!

  3. Responsibility, accountability, and altruism for others beyond self interests …mostly people don't like being told what to do especially if feeling prejudice or bigotry over something. Doesn't surprise me that so many would dislike a video they would never watch. Also it doesn't surprise me feelings of human rights, poverty, science, climate change, conspiracy opinions, and of a majority. Will humans adapt as a whole? We shall see.

  4. Jagadish Shukla a climate scientist at George Mason University made headlines when he was the lead signatory on a letter to Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy "strongly" supporting using federal racketeering laws to investigate those in the private or public sector who work with the fossil fuel industry to "undermine climate science." A scene from "1984", or just liberal progressiveness.

  5. HUMANS are a threat to human rights. Humans are the indirect cause of climate change through the use of vehicles, and other pollutants eating away at the atmosphere. Unfortunately, those humans who have the capacity of changing will be effected last, making it worth the gamble of holding on for one more spin of the roulette wheel. What does Irvin Baxter say about Climate Change Hoax? Try: Bill Nye the Science Guy vs. Climate Change and Evolution Deniers.

  6. Hãy tưởng tượng nhiều ngườ phải di chuyển để tìm cuộc sống mới. Thế giới thiếu nước ngọt va thức ăn.

  7. Hi Guys! I have uploaded a video "A Promise To Mother Earth and To Ourself" Its a must watch! Have a look, its a touching poem!

  8. I get cancer from listening to her. Nothing against the content of her speach but the way she talks is so freaking annoying…

  9. In a corrupt capitalist system human beings will not come together because they are competing against each other. The rich nations will not give money to the poor nations to help them clean up the mess rich countries have made over the last 200 years. Capitalism will not save humanity from climate change.

  10. We are the ones who caused this, we are the ones who will pay the price, the poor, the rich, everyone. There's no one else to blame but us. The thing that matters is whether we decide to fix this. But from now up until that point, we suffer,

  11. OF COURSE climate change is a threat to human rights! Y'all think you have a right to rip up the planet however y'all damn-well please, so how could it be anything else?!

  12. You have headache's = climate change
    You have a diarrhea = climate change
    You can't pay your monthly Bill's = climate change
    Don't want to have sex= climate change
    Wars around the world= climate change
    Peace around the world = climate change
    Nobody buy's your global warming= climate change

    It is so funny that you can use "Climate Change" for everything under the sun.

  13. I don't care if people believe that the sun goes around the earth, or that the earth is flat. I can still go about my business and the world will go on just fine. I do care if people believe that there is no climate science, and that there is no human caused climate change. Fact is, we send up into the atmosphere 28 billion tonnes of brand new fresh discovered isotope 12 C02. This changes things in mother nature and heats the planet. In our more or less democratic west we are heating the globe both by burning fossil fuels and our corporate farming land use practices. This does affect me as well (as those who are ignorant of the results of their actions). Our world is no longer the same world. Because there are many who believe in fantasy and ignorance they prevent collective action to move off of fossil fuels and corporate land use practices. and that is not right. this is a social psychology puzzle at the very least. Resolve penchant ignorance. Fix it. Renaissance please. Wake up from the dark ages. We must stop heating our planet. Request sustainable energy and sustainable land use. There is no time to waste.

  14. I really miss Americans.
    I miss everything.
    smiling talking smell just everything.
    I was a student who dreamed to studying in the U.S . last year I had something in my health , so I went to the hospital for treatment about a week. people who work in embassy called me and told me , u have to back to our country for rest with family, just 4 month and back to our college ; she said who works there"
    Anyway she lied to me and they broke my scholarship that I spend whole my life to get it. she lied and she didn't answer me . when I called her 5 months ago she just said to me " I have no thing for " she repeated 4 times.
    I know some of u say why u comment the story here !!!
    I swear to God I don't know how I can get it back. I am not bad guy and I'm not that Young who can study again and again that my only chance and I love to study in America. I have friends and people who teach and work in college .
    if anyone can help me please reply or copy it for people who can help. I can get anyone my college and ask .
    Ibrahim

  15. Read Great words I found on climate change and global warming

    Unsmelled Air

    Dr.Zeeshan Khan

    The sky is covered with the smoke
    The air is filled with the fog

    Atmosphere is deteriorated with the smog
    Harm but seems to be out of smoky control

    Ecologists have already agreed on pollution clog
    Weighing the out-balanced options blog

    Saved nothing now as pure air bro!
    Blame it agri-left outs,industrial effluents or traffic pollution

    Who is to say the responsible for damaging my atmosphere and past air
    All are complaining but who is to correct it Mayor?

    Climate Change,Global Warming and Pollution have become arch-enemies
    Trees are being cut instead of growing in my World

    If we'd not wish to do something special,No God will be eligible to make it happen from our side
    If but we'd wish to grow Grapevine in Hell,A doer determination then even be able to do it😕

  16. IN his recent book, Contemporary Left Antisemitism, David Hirsh argued that the problem was turbo-charged by three events in 2001: the collapse of the Middle East peace process, the anti-imperialist rhetoric that followed 9/11 and the UN conference in Durban at which “Zionism” was designated a form of white racism, ****CHAIRED BY MARY ROBINSON***. This set the stage for, in Hirsh’s words, “an antisemitism which positions Jews themselves as ‘oppressors’ and … those who develop hostile narratives about Jews as ‘oppressed’.” In the great discourse of left identity politics, Jews were now definitively on the wrong side of the line: powerful, white, aligned with imperialism.

  17. Such a boring speech because it lacks real concrete examples. This is the weakness of 9 out of 10 speeches on TED Talk. Without concrete, descriptive examples, not only would professors fail you on your report or speeches, but you just come out with a vague, time-waster, general, dehumanizing speech.

  18. Too many cars not enough good public transportation. Or a fleet of UBER cars is good. Go vegetarian or go vegan. Human population control via incentivized sterilization. Note, this does not mean forced or coerced, but young people need to be taught about population management. In an incentivized sterilization program a mother getting prenatal care could be offered a "well baby program" whereby she gets a govt. funded loaded card to pay for baby supplies, raising her out of poverty, allowing her child to have needed supplies, but to get the card you have to agree to getting your tubes tied. Too many people!!

  19. Mary Robinson has helped cover up for the human rights abuses committed by her 'dear friends' in the Dubai royal family.
    #MaryRobinson #FreeLatifa #EscapeFromDubai

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6BBBu6QDGA

  20. "I wasn't really impressed by the images of polar bears. It was because of the impact on people and their rights"… human rights are important, but don't let it turn into speciecism…

  21. How did this old woman get to this conference? Did she walk or cycle a bike? Doubt it. I'd say she was driven to the airport. I'd say she flew to California . I'd say she had a car waiting for her at the airport. I'd say she has a carbon footprint that is more than thousands of families combined. I'd say she is a multi millionaire. I'd say the burning of fossil fuels paid a huge part in her wealth creation. I'd say she got handsomely rewarded for this speech. She is a complete hypocrite. If she was genuinely worried about climate change and leaving the poor of the world behind couldn't she have given her speech through Skype? A joke.

  22. The Warmers' Major Premise is false, which is this: "We live in a closed system (like a greenhouse) that traps C02 and other `greenhouse gases.'"

    The fact is we live in an open system, in which millions of tons of excess substances that the earth produces go out into space never to be seen or heard from again. The air gets thinner the higher you go into our approximately 75-mile-high atmosphere until it melds with space. There is no ceiling! There is no top trapping anything!

    Forget about whether the planet is warming or cooling. Forget about whether humans are adding to either one. For anything that happens to the planet has absolutely nothing to do with C02 or any other substance produced by humans or the earth. Those debates are moot!

    Debaters have let the deceitful Warmers get by with this lie. Don't do it! It's false. Never debate their Major Premise. Rather, tell them they have to prove that we live in a closed system before you will go further into a discussion. And they really are discussions, because the Warmers will not and cannot debate, because they have neither any correlating nor causal evidence for their claims.

  23. (30:41) Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by [reason of] what the hands of people have earned so He may let them taste part of [the consequence of] what they have done that perhaps they will return [to righteousness].

  24. The Club of Rome is a globalists organisation and was founded in April 1968 by Aurelio Peccei, an Italian industrialist, and Alexander King, a Scottish scientist. It was formed when a small international group of people from the fields of academia, civil society, diplomacy, and industry met at Villa Farnesina in Rome, hence the name. Mary Robinson the former president of Ireland is a globalist and also a member of this club of Rome and is also in agreement with the following reprehensible and untruthful statement. This statement is the foundation of the global hoax, which was later changed to global warming and the backtracking continues.

    ‘The First Global Revolution’:
    Club of Rome’s Report

    “In searching for the new enemy to unite us, we came up with…the threat of global warming…

    “In searching for the new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill. In their totality and in their interactions these phenomena do constitute a common threat which demands the solidarity of all peoples. But in designating them as the enemy, we fall into the trap about which we have already warned, namely mistaking symptoms for cause. All these dangers are caused by human intervention and it is only through changing attitudes and behaviours that they can be overcome. The real enemy, then, is humanity itself."

  25. Oh jeez a post Christianity bleeding heart name dropper saving humanity. Is Ireland sinking.? Please shut up. Floods, drought it's normal climate. Nut job.

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