Interpreting ‘dangerous’ in the United Nations framework convention on climate change and the human rights of Inuit
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- Crowley, P. Reg Environ Change (2011) 11(Suppl 1): 265. doi:10.1007/s10113-010-0188-3
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The ultimate objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the stabilization of greenhouse gases at a level that would prevent dangerous interference with the climate system. Over the past decade, a growing body of scientific and anecdotal evidence has demonstrated that significant adverse effects of climate change are already occurring in the Arctic. In turn, Arctic climate impacts have fundamentally altered the Inuit’s way of life, which is intimately tied to the physical environment. This article argues that changes to the Inuit’s means of subsistence, property, cultural heritage, enjoyment of natural resources and movement, among others, constitute human rights violations. Those human rights violations, when combined with other global consequences of Arctic climate impacts, indicate that the Parties to the UNFCCC are not meeting their international legal obligations. As a consequence, the author submits that the Parties to the UNFCCC should re-examine their negotiating positions to determine what level of greenhouse gas stabilization will prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. In making that determination, human rights must be considered.