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Tag: Theme: Climate Change


Oslo Principles on Climate Change Video Now Available

ASAP President Thomas Pogge\’s short video on climate change and the Oslo Principles is now available below. The video uses graphics and explanations to argue that governments have a duty to avert the world\’s looming climate catastrophe. Special thanks to Hudson Brown who created the animation. More information on the Oslo Principles is available here.


With Paris Talks Looming, Legal Experts Find All Countries Must Act on Climate

In the run-up to the grand climate meeting in Paris this December, countries are publishing their commitments. Mexico earned much praise for proposing to cut its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 22% by 2030. But this exemplary reduction is relative to what Mexico might otherwise have emitted in 2030 – and constitutes a substantial increase over its 2013 emissions. Even on a per-capita basis, Mexico is proposing merely to keep its GHG emissions flat at 5.9 tons of CO2 equivalent.


Global Climate Change Week, This October

The ASAP-supported project Global Climate Change Week (GCCW) was launched on May 26. GCCW is a new initiative designed to encourage academics in all disciplines and countries to engage with their students and communities on climate change action and solutions. During GCCW (to be held this year on October 19-25) academics will alter their programs to coordinate their teaching on some aspect of climate change. They will also organize various other activities focused on awareness-raising, behavior change and political transformation in relation to climate policy, with the participation of NGOs, the community and not-for-profit sector.


Guardian Newspaper Features ASAP Divestment Call


An article in a leading UK newspaper, The Guardian, features ASAP\’s call for universities to withdraw any endowment funds invested in fossil fuel companies.

Here is the ASAP statement in full:

In light of the urgency of climate change, we, the Directors and members of Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP), strongly support the growing movement to divest university endowments from fossil fuel companies. We applaud the recent divestment commitments made by Stanford University, the New School, University of Glasgow, Syracuse University, and 23 other universities in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere. We urge all other universities to follow their lead.

Time is running out. The Cop 21 Summit in Paris in December of this year is probably our last chance to secure binding and meaningful emission reductions. We must convey the strongest possible message ahead of this summit, and the divestment movement offers a highly promising opportunity to do so.

The scientific community agrees that global warming beyond 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels would constitute \”dangerous climate change\” as defined by the UNFCCC,[1] with wide-reaching negative impacts on human and natural systems.  In order to have a ⅔ chance of remaining below this threshold, we cannot emit more than 1,000 gigatonnes of CO2 from 2011 on.[2] At our present rate, we will burn through this carbon budget in only 25 years. And if we burn all currently known and recoverable fossil fuel reserves – as the fossil fuel industry plans – we will produce over 3,670 gigatonnes of CO2.[3] That\’s nearly 4 times the allowable budget.

The conclusion is strikingly clear: in the absence of decisive action, we are on track for catastrophic climate change. On our present course, climate change will wipe out crucial gains in development and poverty reduction in the global South, and will trigger food shortages, conflict, epidemic disease, and mass displacement. According the IPCC, these trends will \”exacerbate multidimensional poverty\” and \”create new poverty pockets\” in low- and middle-income countries.[4] The current response by the international community is inadequate to prevent this from happening.[5]

Publicly listed and investor-owned fossil fuel companies hold a significant proportion of existing fossil fuel reserves – more than enough to surpass the global emissions budget.  Their business model depends on selling and burning these reserves, and then finding yet more reserves to sell and burn.  By investing in these companies, we are effectively saying that we endorse these activities and are willing to profit from them.

At this moment in history, it is paradoxical for universities to remain invested in fossil fuel companies. What does it mean for universities to seek to educate youth and produce leading research in order to better the future, while simultaneously investing in and profiting from the destruction of said future? This position is neither tenable nor ethical.

We believe that institutions of higher education have a special duty to take this stand. As academics, we are in the privileged position to understand the risks posed by climate change and to make powerful statements in support of action. We support the student-led divestment campaigns at universities around the world. We support the recent decision by the United Nations – and UN General Secretary Ban-Ki Moon – to back the divestment movement.  We support the cities of Seattle, Portland, Bristol, Oxford, and nearly 50 others in their decision to divest from fossil fuels, as well as the 30 foundations and nearly 100 religious organizations that have done the same.  And we support The Guardian\’s campaign to ask the Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust to divest, recognizing that investments in fossil fuels are inimical to their efforts to advance global development and health.

In the words of Desmond Tutu: \”We can no longer continue feeding our addiction to fossil fuels as if there were no tomorrow, or there will be no tomorrow.\”

Members of the ASAP Board of Directors, Officers, and Chapter Leaders

Thomas Pogge, Yale University (President)
Ashok Acharya, University of Delhi
Luis Cabrera, Griffith University
Jason Hickel, London School of Economics
Keith Horton, University of Wollongong
Mitu Sengupta, Ryerson University
Miles Thompson, Canterbury Christ Church University
Catarina Tully, FromOverHere
Oskar MacGregor, University of Skövde
Ellen Szarleta, Indiana University Northwest
Zorka Milin, Yale Law School
David Rodríguez-Arias, Spanish National Research Council

Members of the ASAP Advisory Board

Raymond W. Baker, President, Global Financial Integrity
Sonia Bhalotra, University Of Essex
Alberto D. Cimadamore, Comparative Research Programme on Poverty (CROP)
Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, The New School
David Hulme, University of Manchester
Alnoor Ladha, /The Rules
John Roemer, Yale University
Henry Shue, Oxford University
Peter Singer, Princeton University
Paul Slovic, Decision Research


[1]UNFCCC Article 2 states the objective of the Convention is to \”prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system\”, ratified by 189 member countries.

[2] IPCC Synthesis Report, Table 2.2, page 64.  Figures refer to 2011.

[3] Also from Table 2.2 as above – note that this is the most conservative (lowest) available number; other estimates suggest that known recoverable reserves are twice as high as this figure.

[4] IPCC. \”Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability,\” Chapter 13.

[5] See UNEP Gap report 2014  Mitigation technologies such as Carbon Capture and Storage are only in the demonstration phase, and would need to be scaled up by ~1000 times to make a significant contribution.


Combating Climate Change: What Law Demands

4136180558_78de4bb4e2_oThe Oslo Principles were featured in The Guardian. Read the article here.

It may seem that, in the absence of explicit treaties, states have no legal obligations to curb their greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, if emissions continue on their present trajectory, the harms they cause will reach catastrophic proportions, putting the human rights of billions of people in jeopardy. International human rights law is legally binding on states, which are, therefore, not free to continue business as usual. But how much do human rights and other sources of law, in particular tort law, require each state to do to reduce emissions, even in the absence of a specific treaty? A group of legal experts from around the world has answered this question, producing the Oslo Principles, setting out existing obligations regarding the climate, along with a detailed legal Commentary. These documents may help judges decide whether particular governments are in compliance with their legal obligations to address climate change. The principles may also serve many other purposes, for example they may strengthen the bargaining position of poor countries by pointing to far-reaching obligations of wealthy countries.

Click here to download the Oslo Principles and here to download the commentary.


ASAP Joins Push for Human Rights in New Climate Change Agreement

Landscape with globe

Earlier this month, over 200 NGOs including ASAP presented a submission to a working group of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The submission calls for human rights protections to be incorporated into the international climate agreement to be negotiated in Paris later this year. Furthermore, it argues that a safe climate is essential for the realization of many human rights, including rights to life, health, food, water, housing, and self-determination. Climate change and some policies meant to bring it under control threaten to infringe on these rights. The submission expresses concern that although parties to the UNFCCC agreed in 2010 that human rights should be protected, this commitment has not been put into practice. They argue that now is the time to fully integrate human rights protections into the climate regime with talks on the Paris agreement already underway.

The full submission presented to the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) is available here.


Stephen Lewis: Rethinking Sustainability Beyond 2015

Rethinking Sustainability Beyond 2015: An Agenda for Citizen Action — Outcomes

Held October 2nd, 2014, 3:00-6:30 pm. ASAP Canada and the Politics and Governance Students Association co-organized this workshop.

Sustainability – defined by social, economic as well as environmental dimensions – is emerging as the centrepiece of the new global agreement that will replace the UN\’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) when they expire in 2015. In contrast to the MDGs, which focused on poverty reduction in developing countries, the post-2015 framework, with a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at its core, will be applicable to all countries.

Does the emerging post-2015 global framework accurately identify the multiple challenges of sustainability? How do the deepening inequalities at every level – local, national, global – affect our quest for ‘sustainability’? What forms of limits to corporate power are necessary to ensure sustainable production and consumption? How do we counter the false choice between sustainability and job creation that is presented by businesses and governments alike? Most importantly, how can citizens own these processes of transformative change?

The workshop featured brief presentations by academic experts and civil society leaders, and an intensive discussion period. Stephen Lewis, Distinguished Visiting Professor Ryerson University and former UN Special Envoy for HIV-AIDS in Africa, delivered the keynote address for the workshop. He discussed the future of global poverty and development beyond the Millennium Development Goals that expire in 2015. The video of his presentation is below.


James Hansen: Climate, Energy, Development, Human Health, and Global Justice

Dr. James Hansen, Director of the Climate Science, Awareness, and Solutions Program at Columbia University and former Director of the NASA Goddard Institute, speaks on climate change and global justice at the conference Justice in Development at Yale University. The conference was co-organized by Academics Stand Against Poverty, Global Financial Integrity, and the Yale Global Justice Program.


Call for Papers on Participation and Climate Governance


CISDL/GEM Working paper Series on Public Participation and Climate Governance

Call for PapersS

Deadline for submission of abstracts: rolling until May 15, 2014

The Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL) and the Governance, Environment & Markets Initiative at Yale University (GEM) are calling for papers for their new Working Paper Series on “Public Participation and Climate Governance.” The series will be edited by Sébastien Jodoin (GEM / CISDL); Sébastien Duyck (University of Lapland), and Katherine Lofts (CISDL).

The principle of public participation has long been recognized as paramount for effective and equitable climate policy and governance. Article 6 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) thus outlines States\’ responsibilities to promote and facilitate, inter alia, education and public awareness, public access to information, public participation, training, and international cooperation with respect to addressing climate change and its effects. The Work Programme on Article 6, initially adopted by the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in 2002, encourages governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations to collaborate in matters of access to information and public participation. Under the Doha Work Programme adopted in 2012, a formal dialogue covering access to information, public participation, and public awareness is scheduled to take place in 2014.

With this Working Paper Series on \”Public Participation and Climate Governance,\” CISDL and GEM aim to encourage new and rigorous research of compelling interest to scholars and policy-makers active in climate law, policy, and governance at multiple levels. Contributions are encouraged from legal scholars, social scientists, and practitioners from several fields, including international law, comparative law, international relations, comparative politics, public policy, political economy/ecology, and environmental studies.

Contributions are most notably sought on the following themes and topics:

  • Analysis of the legal developments, practices and discourses associated with public participation within the UNFCCC and other multilateral fora focusing on climate change;
  • Case studies of the development and application of the concept of public participation with respect to particular sectors and mechanisms of climate governance (mitigation, adaptation, carbon trading, CDM, REDD+, etc.);
  • Case studies highlighting best practices and challenges in the operationalization of the concept of public participation in the policy-making processes and governance mechanisms addressing climate change in particular countries or regions around the world;
  • Analysis of experiences with public participation in other fields of environmental governance and how lessons learned might apply to climate governance;
  • Theoretical and critical reflections on the notion of public participation and the opportunities and challenges it presents for equitable and effective climate governance.

Full papers (ranging between 6,000 and 8,000 words) should be submitted by 15 August 2014. The drafts of the working papers may also be discussed during a session of the 3rd Yale/UNITAR Conference on Environmental Governance and Democracy, \”Human Rights, Environmental Sustainability, Post-2015 Development, and the Future Climate Regime,\” which will be held in New Haven, Ct., 5-7 September 2014. Prospective authors interested in participating in this conference are encouraged to submit an abstract.

The final versions of the working papers will be posted on the CISDL and GEM websites and will be launched at a side-event organized during the 20th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC to be held in Lima, Peru in November 2014. Selected working papers may also be collected into a book or special journal issue to be published at a later date.

Submissions of abstracts (of approximately 500 words) will be accepted on a rolling basis until 15 May 2014. Authors are encouraged to submit abstracts as soon as possible to ensure paper eligibility and avoid overlap between different papers in the series. While papers should not have been published elsewhere before being submitted to the series, inclusion in the series does not preclude future publication elsewhere.

Abstracts submitted for inclusion in the working paper series should be submitted as Microsoft Word Documents and should include a 500 word abstract and a 50 word biography of the author. All abstracts should be submitted to Ms. Katherine Lofts (CISDL) at


New Legal Reference: Human Rights and Climate Change Policy-making

The Center for International Sustainable Development Law, Academics Stand Against Poverty, and the Governance, Environment & Markets Initiative at Yale University have developed a new legal reference guide that examines the connections between climate change and human rights, with a particular focus on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

The legal reference guide can be downloaded here.

Given the serious human rights ramifications of climate change, States are obliged to take all appropriate means to avoid and mitigate climate change and its harmful consequences, as well as assist vulnerable communities in adapting to its consequences. States are also required to ensure that their responses to climate change are consistent with their human rights obligations under domestic and international law. This introductory legal reference guide seeks to provide policy-makers, advocates, and experts with basic knowledge of obligations and principles related to international economic, social, and cultural rights in the context of new challenges brought by climate change, as well as to highlight opportunities for policy-makers worldwide.

Part I of this manual provides a general introduction to human rights and the international climate change regime, including the relationship between climate change and human rights. Part II surveys basic concepts of international human rights law. Part III examines the ICESCR more specifically, including its structure, the nature of its obligations, means of implementation, and compliance mechanisms. Finally, Parts IV through X discuss specific rights enumerated in the ICESCR, including: the right to equality and non-discrimination; the right to work and social security; the right to family life; the right to an adequate standard of living; the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; the right to education; and the right to culture. These sections also provide case studies illustrating how climate policies are being implemented to concomitantly address climate change and enhance the realization of human rights.

The legal reference guides was edited by Sébastien Jodoin and Katherine Lofts and includes a foreword by Thomas Pogge. The contributing authors include: Christiane Bossé, Christopher Campbell-Furuflé, Benoît Mayer, Karine Péloffy, Patrick Reynaud, and Sean Stephenson.

For more information regarding this publications, please contact Ms. Katherine Lofts at