Saturday, 30 May 2009

Preventable climate change is killing 300,000 a year, says think-tank. So why aren't the culprits behind bars?

A new report by the Global Humanitarian Forum, a think-tank run by former UN Secretary general Kofi Annan, reckons climate change is already killing more than a quarter of a million people a year - mostly from heatwaves, floods and forest fires - and it's getting worse. By 2030, according to the report, it's likely to be causing the premature deaths of half a million people a year - and costing survivors as much as $600 billion annually.

So yet another international report (how many will it take) warning of the terrible human cost of not preventing runaway climate change - I don't know about you but I'm getting a bit mind-boggled by all this.

Surely if a government fails to prevent an entirely predictable - and indeed widely predicted - death, let alone half a million of them a year, it's either a breach of humanitarian law (if the death(s) are in another state) or a breach of the internationally guaranteed right to life (if at home).

So isn't it time we stopped talking about climate change as primarily an environmental issue (though it certainly is that too) - and began talking about it principally as a human rights issue, or even a criminal matter?

We know which governments are failing to push for global agreements on cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that UN scientists agree are fuelling climate change, and we know which activities, and which companies, are most responsible for producing them. We know which politicians and businesses are trying to deny the problem and undermine the efforts of others.

And we know that people are dying as a result. So isn't it time we stopped having a debate about it and started the prosecutions?

1 comment:

  1. A good idea in principle, Ben, but it's difficult to see how you'd put the United States in prison; 1 in 100 of its citizens is already in the hoosegow. Also, anyone care to try and prosecute the Chinese?

    We're going to have to use reason, persuasion and relentless pressure in order to solve this, I think.