Clean environment could become U.N. human right. Not so fast, say U.S., Britain


Britain and the United States are among a few countries withholding support for a proposal brought at the United Nations that would recognise access to a safe and healthy environment as a human right, prompting criticism that they are undermining their own pledges ahead of the Glasgow climate conference.

Diplomats say the Geneva-based Human Rights Council is expected to adopt the resolution later this week even if an opposing country calls a vote, as supporters are numerous and include Costa Rica, the Maldives and Switzerland.

If adopted, environmental defenders say it will pressure countries to join the more than 100 nations that already recognize a legal right to healthy surroundings. And while the resolution would not be binding, lawyers say it will shape norms and help campaigners develop arguments in climate cases.

The World Health Organization estimates that some 13.7 million deaths a year, or around 24.3 % of the total, are due to environmental risks such as air pollution and chemical exposure. read more

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~sReuters, 6 October 2021