Democracy Now! - December 10, 2015

Today is International Human Rights Day, which commemorates the day on which the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. As we broadcast from the U.N. climate change summit in Paris, France, we look at climate change as a human rights issue. Negotiators have been debating how human rights should be address in the Paris accord. The United States, Norway and Saudi Arabia have been criticized for seeking to eliminate key references to human rights in the text. We are joined by former Irish President Mary Robinson, who is also former U.N. high commissioner for human rights. In 2010, Robinson set up the Mary Robinson Foundation–Climate Justice. "To me, [climate change] is the biggest human rights issue in the world," Robinson says.

The current draft of the U.N. climate change agreement does not include gender equality, and critics have also noted the lack of women in leadership roles at COP21 in Paris. We speak with former Irish President Mary Robinson, who argues the gender impacts of climate must be addressed. "If you undermine poor livelihoods, who has to pick up the pieces? Who has to put food on the table? Who has to go further in drought for firewood?" Robinson asks. "The vast majority of farmers in the developing world are women." Robinson is president of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice. She served as president of Ireland from 1990 to 1997 and U.N. high commissioner for human rights from 1997 to 2002.

As hundreds of thousands of people from war-torn nations are housed in European refugee camps, we speak with former Irish President Mary Robinson, who decries the conditions refugees face during their journey and in camps where they are held when they arrive. Robinson says their rights to better treatment have been ignored despite being guaranteed by the United Nations.

It’s the final stretch of negotiations at the United Nations climate change summit, COP21, as representatives from nearly 200 countries attempt to reach a final deal before the weekend. A draft text released Wednesday has nearly 100 outstanding points of disagreement that still need to be resolved, including the role that wealthy and more advanced developing countries should play in helping vulnerable nations cope with the impacts of climate change. Civil society groups attending the summit erupted in protest over Wednesday’s draft, saying it will not go far enough to prevent catastrophic global warming. Hundreds staged a sit-in and march, marking the largest protest inside COP21 to date. "It’s completely unacceptable," Dipti Bhatnagar of Friends of the Earth International said of the draft. "It’s going to burn our planet. It’s going to drown our Pacific islands."

Representatives from nearly 200 nations are in the final stretch of negotiations at the U.N. climate summit in Paris. The text has nearly 100 outstanding points of disagreement that still need to be resolved. One of the most contentious issues is the role that wealthy and more advanced developing countries should play in helping vulnerable nations cope with the impacts of climate change. "I feel—and this is not a comfortable thing to say—that if London, Paris, Washington, Brussels were facing as urgent the situation that we are facing in the developing parts of the world, I don’t think we would be having such a struggle to get the kind of ambition that we need and the goal of reaching 100 percent renewable energy by 2050," says Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International. We speak with Naidoo about what he calls "climate apartheid."

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced plans to double the funding that the United States provides to help developing countries adapt to climate change to around $860 million a year. Critics including Asad Rehman, head of international climate for Friends of the Earth, say the United States is trying to keep an alliance of wealthy developed countries together and rewrite legal rules. "Many people talk about President Obama’s legacy in terms of climate change," says Rehman. "Unfortunately, the legacy he will leave is a poison chalice to the poor, to make them pay for the impacts of climate change. I don’t see much difference between the United States now and the United States in Copenhagen."

"How does a country negotiate its own perceived demise? This may be the most pertinent question to consider when pondering the role of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations 21st Conference of Parties in Paris," writes journalist Antonia Juhasz in a new piece for Newsweek. "The simple answer is that it does not. Instead it undermines and blocks those negotiations and their goal wherever possible."

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