On May 21, 2015, five years after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, John Knox and Manish Bapna wrote an op-ed for Thomson Reuters about the increased need for public access to environmental information, public participation in environmental decision-making, and enforcement of environmental laws. Access, participation, and justice, Knox and Bapna say, create the basis for environmental democracy and help ensure the protection of human rights. They describe the World Resources Institute’s recently released Environmental Democracy Index, which evaluates 70 countries’ environmental laws based on standards set by the UN Environmental Programme.
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On May 4, 2015, UN Radio interviewed Special Rapporteur John Knox on the impact of an incremental increase in global temperature on human rights. Based on a report by the Climate Vulnerable Forum, Knox explained how just a half of a degree Celsius in global temperature will negatively impact the enjoyment of human rights. Knox called on countries to mitigate the harm caused by climate change rather than adapting to its effects.
On May 1, 2015, Laurie Goering of Reuters published an article stating that a group of scientists and experts, including John Knox, warned that a global climate temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius will not prevent climate change’s worst impacts. The experts warned that weather-related disasters will increase in frequency, small Pacific island states may become uninhabitable, and individuals living in coastal cities will be displaced. Knox was quoted as saying, “Even moving from one to two degrees of warming negatively affects the full enjoyment of a wide range of human rights.”
On May 1, 2015, Triad Business Journal published a profile of John Knox and his career, including how he became a UN Special Rapporteur. In the article, Professor Knox also talked about how harm to the environment can interfere with human rights as well as the increasing importance of public access to environmental information.
On March 9, 2015, the United Nations Office at Geneva reported that John Knox, UN Independent Expert on human rights and the environment, presented to the Human Rights Council. Knox “urged States to recognize that the risks environmental defenders faced were a global problem, and to do more to address climate change, including taking into account human rights in order to make better climate policy.”
On February 10, 2015, GlobalVoices published an article that highlighted the disturbing trend of violence toward environmental activists worldwide. In the past decade, the article notes, 1,000 environmentalists in 35 countries have been murdered for their activism. UN Independent Expert on human rights and the environment, John Knox, was quoted as saying, “Many of those murdered were ‘accidental’ human rights defenders . . . They got involved because it was their own land, their own forests, their own water they were defending.” Knox went on to say that the contest between often marginalized activists and powerful economic interests is unfair and one-sided. He emphasized that the activists are not fighting a losing battle, but they need help and protection.
GlobalWarmingisReal.com: “The Slaughter of Innocents: Our Complicity in the Murder of Environmentalists”
On January 8, 2015, Richard Matthews authored an article for GlobalWarmingisReal.com that focused on the violence faced by environmental activists worldwide. Mr. Matthews states that the activists face intimidation, often fatal violence, stigmatization, and criminalization. UN Independent Expert on human rights and the environment, John Knox, was quoted as saying, “The international community must do more to protect [the environmental activists] from the violence and harassment.”
On January 1, 2015, Marianne Lavelle authored an article for NewsReview.com entitled “World’s Eco Focus Shifts: Recent UN talks highlight need to include human impacts of green projects.” The article described the recent UN climate talks in Lima where nations considered the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation effort and the way in which environmental harm impacts indigenous rights. The article stated that UN Independent Expert on human rights and the environment, John Knox, called for strong human rights language in the climate treaty. He was quoted as saying, “A human rights framework would help to make clear that governments don’t leave behind their human rights obligations when they walk through the doors of the climate negotiations.”
On December 10, 2014, Megan Rowling authored an article for Reuters.com that described how civil society groups are urging UN ministers to to include language on human rights in a new global climate deal. The article quoted UN expert on human rights and the environment, John Knox, as saying that climate change already interferes “with an immense range of human rights, from housing in the Maldives, to water in Tuvalu to food in the Sahel region of Africa, and . . . the problems of course will only get worse.” While the deal’s draft includes some language about human rights, civil society groups call for stronger language that will force governments to consider human rights when implementing all of their climate-change-related actions.
On December 1, 2014, Marianne Lavelle authored an article on the UN climate talks that will begin in Lima today. Ms. Lavelle notes that nations will weigh safeguards encouraged by the UN Clean Development Mechanism, and they will consider the UN Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation effort. John Knox, UN Independent Expert on human rights and the environment, was quoted as saying, “A human rights framework would help to make clear that governments don’t leave behind their human rights obligations when they walk through the doors of the climate negotiations.”