By Romany Webb and Jessica Wentz

The latest round of United Nations (UN) climate change talks got underway yesterday – April 30 – at the seat of the secretariat to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Germany. The so-called “intersessional” talks, which take place each year midway between the annual Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, are intended to advance discussion on implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement. Meetings will be held by the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement, as well as the UNFCCC subsidiary bodies for implementation (SBI) and scientific and technological advice (SBSTA).

A key focus of the SBSTA meeting will be on developing guidelines for implementing Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. That article – often termed the “cooperative approaches provision” – establishes a framework under which Parties to the Paris Agreement may cooperate on actions to mitigate climate change. This has the potential to benefit developing countries, leading to increased funding for their climate change mitigation projects. Care must, however, be taken to ensure that those projects do not adversely affect local communities or infringe on individuals’ human rights. Recognizing this, in their submissions to SBSTA, several Parties have called for action to ensure the protection of human rights.

To inform discussions on this issue, the Sabin Center is today publishing a working paper, which explores different approaches to ensuring human rights are protected in the context of Article 6. We identify three key approaches:

  • The adoption of social and environmental safeguards for the Article 6 cooperative approaches that resemble (but ideally improve upon) the types of safeguards adopted for the CDM and other project finance mechanisms.
  • The establishment of guidelines aimed at ensuring that a portion of the revenue from the cooperative approaches is channeled to countries and communities where climate change poses the greatest risk to human rights.
  • The incorporation of human rights considerations into the overarching implementation guidelines for the Paris Agreement.

While none of these approaches is expressly required by the Paris Agreement, they are implicitly authorized by language in the preamble calling upon Parties to respect, promote, and consider human rights when acting on climate change. How the Parties will do that remains to be seen.

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