Climate crisis a ‘systemic threat’ to children’s rights

Climate crisis a 'systemic threat' to children's rights

Clodagh Daly

The Irish government has been urged to heed a new UN report identifying the climate crisis as “an urgent and systemic threat to children’s rights globally”.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child yesterday launched its general comment on children’s rights and the environment, which considers the impact of the ‘triple planetary crisis’ of the climate emergency, the collapse of biodiversity and pervasive pollution.

Community Law & Mediation (CLM), the community law centre which specialises in environmental justice and children’s law services, has called on the Irish government to take climate action in accordance with its legal obligations to avoid unduly burdening young and future generations with drastic emissions reductions in the future.

Clodagh Daly, manager of CLM’s Centre for Environmental Justice, said: “Climate change is an inter-generational injustice without precedent. It is no surprise that children have been leading the way in the fight for climate justice.

“Children are disproportionately impacted by climate change, and it is not about protecting a planet they will inherit — it is about protecting their rights today. That is why Community Law & Mediation provides free legal advice on children’s rights and environmental justice.

“We welcome the UN general comment and call on the government to deliver deep, rapid and sustained reductions in emissions to vindicate the rights of children in Ireland and around the world.”

Ruth Barry, children’s law solicitor at CLM, added: “The climate crisis is ultimately a children’s rights crisis.

“As the UN general comment highlights, environmental protection applies to all children’s rights as set out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, including the right to be heard, the right to education, the right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, the right to access to information and the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

“These rights must be protected amidst an escalating climate and biodiversity crisis. Environmental decisions generally concern children, and the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration in the adoption and implementation of environmental policies.”

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