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New Delhi, Dec 6 – National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India Chairperson Justice Arun Mishra on Tuesday said that a safeguards information system for ‘Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation’ is necessary to minimize the negative impact of climate change and capacity-building programs by training.

Justice Mishra said that climate change impacts human rights in a big way; with melting polar ice, rising sea levels, increased drought, high-density rainfalls, cyclones, floods, landslides, and forest fires, the poorest of the poor suffer the most.

He was addressing a session on ‘Empowering those most affected by Climate Change in the NHRI COP28 Symposium’ on ‘Climate change and Human Rights: the role of National Human Rights Institutions’ organized by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) in Dubai.

He said that besides the other stakeholders, the NHRIs have to work to protect the environment and address the needs of the people impacted by climate change-induced displacements resulting in violation of human rights including the rights to shelter, livelihood, education, and health, among others, NHRC said in a statement.

Referring to the UN report relating to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2023, Justice Mishra said that the energy resources need a careful transition. Otherwise, the loss of money from the energy industry could cause destabilization “internally, regionally and even internationally.” The International Labour Organization (ILO) report highlighted that approximately one-third of jobs in G20 nations directly depend on effective environment management and sustainability, it said.

Besides the war, the former Supreme Court Judge said, climate change is one of the leading causes of migration. Transition to climate-resilient infrastructure and mitigation measures are essential for the survival of humanity. Air and water pollution are reducing human life span.

He said that vanishing water bodies due to large-scale construction, depleting water levels, and contaminated groundwater are also issues of serious concern. Industrial hazards like gas leakage have now become commonplace incidents. Plastic has seriously threatened environmental pollution on the earth and the seas endangering biodiversity. The plastic patch in the ocean reportedly is 20 times larger than the size of France. Therefore, plastic recycling is required, the statement said.

Justice Mishra said that the NHRC proactively addresses the environment-related issues and ensures justice by recommending payment of compensation. It has decided on 8,916 cases relating to environmental degradation on complaints as well as on a suo motu basis.

The Commission has set up a Core Group on Environment and has been holding discussions on various aspects relating to climate and the environment. An Advisory on environment pollution emphasizing the expeditious punishment of polluters and violators of environmental laws, prevention and minimization of vehicular pollution, and strengthening and capacity building of local bodies to deal with environment issues has been issued.

Requests have been made to all states to grow trees in every district, it said.

The Commission is also hearing in its suo motu proceedings the Union and States on the reported high air pollution impacting life expectancy in the country and how to reduce various types of pollution to ensure a healthy life and an ambient atmosphere, the statemnt added.