WASHINGTON (CP) - Northern Canadians told an international commission Thursday that carbon emissions from the United States have contributed so much to global warming that they should be considered a human rights violation. One activist said temperatures have climbed so much that Arctic residents need air conditioners.
The case was pressed by the Inuit community before the 34-country Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. In a petition, the group asked the commission's assistance "in obtaining relief" from the impact of global warming, and makes specific reference to the United States as the country most responsible for the phenomenon.
The commission, however, lacks the legal authority to compel the United States to take action.
Sheila Watt-Cloutier, an Inuit activist, said the well-being of her people is under threat, and that the need for air conditioners is just one example of the spread of global warming.
Climate change, she said is "destroying our right to life, health, property and means of subsistence," she said. "States that do not recognize these impacts and take action violate our human rights."
Watt-Cloutier, 53, is the former chairwoman of the Inuit Circumpolar Council. She lives in Nunavut and has long represented some 150,000 Inuit in the Arctic.
She said ice formations are much more likely to detach from land, and take unsuspecting hunters out to sea where they face an uncertain fate.
Beyond that, she said hunters can no longer be sure of ice thickness and whether it is safe to travel on.
"Many hunters have been killed or seriously injured after falling through ice that was traditionally known to be safe," she said.
The United States did not respond to the Inuit claims before the commission, an arm of the Organization of American States. The administration of President George W. Bush has said it is taking steps to reduce global warming, but domestic and international critics say it is not doing enough given that the United States is the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
Earthjustice, an international environmental law advocacy group, asked the commission to issue a report "recognizing a clear relationship between global warming and human rights," and calling on countries to take steps to mitigate global warming.
Scientists generally agree the Arctic is the first place on Earth to be affected by rising global temperatures. They say that unless developed countries such as the United States, which is responsible for one-fourth of world's greenhouse gases, do not dramatically reduce their emissions within the next 15 years, the Arctic ice likely will melt by the end of the century.
The Inuit population hails from Canada, Russia and Greenland, as well as Alaska, where they are known as Eskimos. They have been trying to tell the world for more than a decade about the shifting winds and thinning ice that have damaged the hunting grounds the Northern peoples have used for thousands of years.
Watt-Cloutier was nominated with former vice-president Al Gore for a Nobel Peace Prize for their work on climate change.
It was Watt-Cloutier who first publicly linked climate change and human rights at a 2003 United Nations conference.
She filed a petition with the OAS commission in December 2005 on the issue but it was dismissed. The group finally agreed last month to a hearing.
Joined: 28 Feb 2007
Location: Northern Ontario
Posted: Sat Mar 03, 2007 12:54 pm Post subject:
Same old...same old.
I live in the north and what I see is a situation with a group of environmental (or whatever issue they can conspire to seize upon) whities agitating within the native communities while bleeding money from the natives and the government under the guise of "the poor Indians". It's a job security (their jobs) issue with an entirely self serving motivation and they could care less about the native's welfare.
Joined: 23 Feb 2007
Posts: 1092 votes: 14
Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2007 3:51 pm Post subject:
Like the Inuit are not now producing greenhouse gases and over consuming just like everyone else.
The whole idea of Native Canadians being more in touch with nature is
1) Mildly racist
2) just plain wrong, natives in this country overconsume just like everyone else.
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Natives Say American Emissions Violate Their Human Rights