Where Are Criteria of Human Significance in Climate Change Assessment?



How important are humanistic principles in assessments of climate change? Do we judge in terms of all the valued impacts on all people? The chapter identifies how interests of vulnerable poor people are often marginalized, even when assessments are made by agencies supposedly accountable within the United Nations system with its commitments to universal human rights and human security. A major case considered is the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (2014). A second example taken is the debate on climate change’s impacts on human health. The burden of proof in climate change politics has been placed on the side of those who warn of dangers, and the precautionary principle often becomes configured in favour of not risking disturbance to the privileged. The chapter generates a typology of ways in which vulnerable poor people are marginalized or excluded in climate change analyses. It then discusses how this marginalization and exclusion might be countered, including looking at the 2015 Papal encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, and asks whether attention to the excluded requires ontological reorientations of sorts that are not yet standard in human development discourse. It concludes by pointing towards how human rights and human security frameworks can contribute here.


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Institute of Social StudiesThe HagueNetherlands

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