Former Ireland President & Fmr. UN high commissioner: ‘Climate change denial is malign and evil’
Mary Robinson: “I believe that climate change denial is not just ignorant, it is malign, it is evil, and it amounts to an attempt to deny human rights to some of the most vulnerable people on the planet.”
The denial of climate change is not just ignorant, but “malign and evil”, according to Mary Robinson, because it denies the human rights of the most vulnerable people on the planet.
The former UN high commissioner for human rights and special envoy for climate change also says fossil fuel companies have lost their social licence to explore for more coal, oil and gas and must switch to become part of the transition to clean energy.
Robinson will make the outspoken attack on Tuesday, in a speech to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew in London, which has awarded her the Kew International Medal for her “integral work on climate justice”.
She also told the Guardian she supports climate protests, including the school strikes for climate founded by “superstar” Greta Thunberg, and that “there is room for civil disobedience as a way of communicating, though we also need hope”.
Robinson is chair of the Elders, an independent group of global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela that works for human rights. She will say in her speech: “I believe that climate change denial is not just ignorant, it is malign, it is evil, and it amounts to an attempt to deny human rights to some of the most vulnerable people on the planet.”
“The evidence about the effects of climate change is incontrovertible, and the moral case for urgent action indisputable,” she will say.
“Climate change undermines the enjoyment of the full range of human rights – from the right to life, to food, to shelter and to health. It is an injustice that the people who have contributed least to the causes of the problem suffer the worst impacts of climate change.”
Robinson, a former president of the Republic of Ireland, told the Guardian her angry words were the result of seeing the impact on people’s lives. “In Africa, I saw the devastating impacts on poor farmers, villagers and communities when they could not predict when the rainy season was going to come.”
She also attacks big oil, gas and coal companies in her speech. She is expected to say: “We have entered a new reality where fossil fuel companies have lost their legitimacy and social licence to operate.” She says exploration for new reserves must end, given that most of existing reserves must be kept in the ground if global warming is to be tackled.