Human Rights Watch’s 2022 World Report includes assessments of the climate policies of 22 countries and some of the foreseeable harms that climate-related disasters are having on people, especially those already marginalized. These include the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters, such as Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The Glasgow climate summit (COP26) produced a new global pact committing governments to take increasingly ambitious steps to address the climate crisis. But, while pointing in the right direction, the commitments fall well short of what is needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees and avert the most catastrophic outcomes of climate change.
Countries are sabotaging their climate commitments in multiple ways—including by failing to enforce their environmental laws and to protect environmental defenders, and by providing funding and support to the fossil fuel industry that could be better used promoting renewable energy sources or addressing climate harms.
Australia is among the top 20 emitters and one of the world's biggest per capita emitters of the greenhouse gases responsible for the climate crisis, and the resulting toll on human rights around the globe.
The third largest exporter of fossil fuels globally, Australia's fossil fuel companies also benefit from significant tax breaks, with fossil fuel subsidies increasing 48 percent since the Paris agreement in 2015.
In 2015, the government pledged to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. In October, just days before the COP26 Climate conference in Glasgow, Australia announced it had set a target for net zero carbon emissions by 2050. However, it does not include a commitment to end fossil fuels and did not reveal how it would achieve this target.
The government has continued to actively support the expansion of fossil fuel industries at the expense of renewables, approving several new coal mines including one requiring public financing.
In a major ruling in a case brought on behalf of survivors from the devastating 2019-20 bushfires, in August a court in New South Wales ordered the state's Environmental Protection Authority to take concrete and specific steps to safeguard against climate change.
In September, the Western Australia state government announced an end to the logging of native forests in an effort to preserve carbon sinks.
Read the full Australia World Report Chapter »
Bangladesh is among the countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, despite having contributed little to the greenhouse gas emissions causing rising temperatures. Due to climate change, cyclones will become more intense and frequent, posing a growing threat to tens of millions of people living along the country's low-lying coastline, many of whom could face food insecurity due to reduced agricultural productivity and mass displacement due to rising sea levels.
During 2021, the government announced a scaling back of plans to build coal-fired power plants and the cancellation of numerous proposed projects. However, construction continues on several plants, which, when operational, will not only emit greenhouse gases but also toxic pollutants that impact the health of local populations. The plant under construction at Rampal poses a serious threat to the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest, a UNESCO world heritage site where rich biodiversity supports the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of people and provides a critical buffer against the impacts of sea level rise and extreme weather.
Read the full Bangladesh World Report Chapter »
As one of the world's top 10 emitters of greenhouse gases, Brazil contributes to the mounting toll that the climate crisis is taking on human rights around the globe.
In its December 2020 climate action plan, Brazil pledged a smaller reduction of its overall greenhouse gas emissions than it had in its original 2016 plan, a regression in violation of its obligations under the Paris Agreement. The Climate Action Tracker, which provides independent scientific analysis, rated that plan as "highly insufficient" to meet the Paris Agreement goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. If all countries' plans fell this short, warming would reach over 4°C by the end of the century.
In November 2021, the Brazilian delegation to the global climate summit in Glasgow, COP26, announced a new plan that still does not represent an increase in ambition in relation to its initial plan submitted in 2016. The delegation also committed to ending illegal deforestation by 2028, but the federal government is yet to adopt an operational plan to deliver on this pledge.
Increased deforestation in the Amazon enabled by the Bolsonaro government has driven up overall emissions and may cause vast portions of the rainforest to turn into dry savannah in coming years, releasing billions of tons of stored carbon.
Read the full Brazil World Report Chapter »
As a top 10 global greenhouse gas emitter Canada is contributing to the climate crisis taking a growing toll on human rights around the globe. Since being elected in 2015, the Trudeau government has repeatedly pledged to pursue ambitious action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, Canada remains the only G7 country whose greenhouse gas emissions have increased substantially since the adoption of the Paris Agreement.
Canada is also the top per capita public financer of fossil fuels in the world and projects increased oil production through 2050. According to the Climate Action Tracker, Canada's commitment to reduce emissions by 40-45 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 is not sufficient to meet the Paris Agreement goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. And Canada is not on track to meet its target.
World governments' failure to tackle climate change is already taking a growing toll on marginalized populations in Canada. Warming temperatures and increasingly unpredictable weather are reducing the availability of First Nations' traditional food sources, and increasing the difficulty and danger associated with harvesting food from the land.
Federal and provincial climate change policies have failed to put in place adequate measures to support First Nations in adapting to current and anticipated impacts of climate change and have largely ignored the impacts of climate change on First Nations' right to food. While the federal government made historic funding commitments in 2021 to support Indigenous food security and Indigenous-led climate monitoring, much more is needed to address the impact of the climate crisis on First Nations and to ensure that appropriate food subsidies and health resources are available to all who need them.
Inadequate government support also compounded risks for people with disabilities and older people during the June 2021 "heat dome," an extreme and foreseeable heatwave that killed hundreds of people in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Lack of proper heat planning and lack of access to cooling and targeted support for at-risk populations contributed to unnecessary suffering and possibly deaths.
Read the full Canada World Report Chapter »
China is by far the largest emitter of greenhouse gases globally, making a major contribution to the climate crisis that is taking a mounting toll on human rights around the globe. China accounts for nearly 70 percent of global emissions in 2018, although its per capita emissions put it only in the top 40 countries. Much of the considerable energy that has fueled China's economic growth comes from coal, driving these emissions. It produces half of the world's coal and is also the largest importer of oil, gas, and coal.
China is the world's largest funder and builder of overseas coal projects, some of which are through the BRI. President Xi announced at the UN General Assembly in October, that China would no longer "build new coal-fired power projects abroad." China continues to develop coal projects domestically.
In September 2020, Xi announced China would reach carbon neutrality by 2060, and reach peak carbon emissions before 2030. Despite these improved targets, the Climate Action Tracker rates China's domestic target as "highly insufficient" to meet the Paris Agreement goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
China also leads the world in renewable energy use and is the largest funder of overseas renewable projects, some of which, however, have been linked to human rights abuses. China has much of the global production capacity for the materials needed for a global transition to renewable energy including wind turbines, solar panels, and minerals. Some of these materials are reportedly processed in Xinjiang, raising concerns about the use of forced labor.
China's imports of agricultural commodities drive more deforestation globally than those of any other market—including the imports of all 27 member states of the European Union combined. This deforestation is largely illegal. In November, in a joint China-US statement issued in the context of the global climate summit in Glasgow, the two countries said they would contribute to eliminating global illegal deforestation by enforcing their respective laws that ban illegal imports of timber. China has yet to enforce a restriction on illegal timber imports it adopted in 2019.
Read the full China World Report Chapter »
Colombia's national plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is "highly insufficient" to meeting the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, according to the Climate Action Tracker. The plan commits Colombia to reducing deforestation to 50,000 hectares per year by 2030. Government figures registered more than 170,000 hectares deforested in 2020, though preliminary data indicates a decrease during the first trimester of 2021 in relation to the previous year.
Two-thirds of forest destruction occurs in the Amazon region, driven in large part by cattle ranchers and FARC dissident groups that pressure local residents to log trees, extort farmers, promote planting of coca crops to produce cocaine, and threaten people who support conservation efforts.
Two years after the government launched Operation Artemisa to combat deforestation, it has achieved limited results. In July 2021, Congress passed a government-sponsored bill expanding criminal penalties for illegal deforestation and other environmental crimes. In November, at the global climate summit in Glasgow, COP26, the Colombian government committed to have 30 percent of the country's territory declared a protected area in 2022. The figure currently stands at 15 percent.
Climate change is causing increased temperatures and droughts—and could lead to extreme rainfall and flooding—requiring the government to take steps to protect at-risk populations from their foreseeable harm. The authorities' inadequate response to prolonged drought in the northeastern state of La Guajira has undermined Indigenous Wayuu people's access to food and water, leading to high rates of childhood malnutrition deaths.
Read the full Colombia World Report Chapter »
Democratic Republic of Congo
Congo contains the world's second largest rainforest. Scientists estimate that the forest's soil alone holds billions of tons of carbon, as much as 20 years' worth of the fossil fuel emissions of the United States. If released through increased deforestation or other disturbances it could have catastrophic effects on efforts to contain climate change.
Successive governments continued to grant multiple logging contracts, despite imposing a moratorium on new logging concessions in 2002. In February, civil society organizations filed a lawsuit against the former environment minister for reportedly breaching the prohibition by granting logging concessions to Chinese companies in 2020.
In July, the Tshisekedi administration set out a plan that includes ending the moratorium on logging, but an agreement reached at the COP26 conditions lifting the moratorium on the planning of forest allocations based on a consultative process.
In April, President Tshisekedi pledged to restore forest cover to 63 percent by 2030 at a climate summit hosted by the US.
During the same month, a bill that would recognize Indigenous peoples' rights over their traditional territories was adopted in the National Assembly but it had yet to be voted by the Senate before it could be passed into law. Ending the moratorium on logging without a domestic legal framework that protects Indigenous rights could undermine communities' access to their forests, as they would have little recourse against businesses that claimed them.
Read the full Democratic Republic of Congo World Report Chapter »
The 27 member states of the European Union are among the top 10 greenhouse gas emitters globally, making a major contribution to the climate crisis that is taking a mounting toll on human rights around the globe. In July, the European Commission adopted a series of legislative proposals laying out how it intends to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, the target set in the 2020 European Climate Law adopted in June, including the intermediate target of an at least 55 percent net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. According to Climate Action Tracker, the 2030 commitment is "almost sufficient" to meet the Paris Agreement goal to stay below 1.5°C of warming.
Despite committing to phase out environmentally harmful subsidies, including subsidies for fossil fuels, by 2020, European Parliament members voted in 2021 to prolong gas subsidies until 2027, undermining emissions reduction efforts.
Several European officials, including the French president and the then-German chancellor, have said they opposed or had strong reservations about the EU-Mercosur free trade agreement due to Brazil's disregard for its commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement and failure to curb illegal deforestation in the Amazon, a "carbon sink" critical for mitigating climate change.
Read the full European Union World Report Chapter »
As one of the EU's biggest greenhouse gas emitters, France is contributing to the climate crisis taking a growing toll on human rights around the globe. France committed to reducing emissions by 40 percent by 2030. From January 2020 through March 3, 43 percent of the almost US$57 billion Covid-19 recovery were subsidies for fossil fuels. In a February report, the High Council for the Climate said that, while progress has been made, the government's efforts remain too slow to achieve the 2030 target. France has already warmed by 1.7 degrees and severe climate impacts such as heat waves and forest fires will become more frequent and intense.
In February, the Paris Administrative Court held in a landmark ruling that climate change constitutes environmental damage to which state inaction has contributed. In October, the court issued an additional ruling in this case finding that France has to make up for its past failures and achieve additional emission reductions by December 2022. In June, the Senate adopted the "climate and resilience" law. Despite some positive measures, it has been severely criticized for its lack of ambition. In July, the Council of State ordered the government to take additional measures by March 2022 to put France on track to meet its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Despite poor implementation by the government, civil society groups are increasingly using the French Duty of Vigilance Law to hold private actors to account for harming the climate. In February, the Nanterre civil court held that it had jurisdiction over a case against Total, an energy company, claiming it had not taken adequate measures to prevent human rights, health, and environmental damage resulting from its contribution to climate change.
Read the full France World Report Chapter »
As the EU's biggest greenhouse gas emitter, Germany is contributing to the climate crisis which is taking a growing toll on human rights around the globe. In 2021, the constitutional court held that the 2019 climate change law does not adequately regulate emission reductions and violates the government's obligation to protect rights. Since the ruling, the government pledged to reduce emissions by 65 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and reach net zero by 2045. According to the Climate Action Tracker, this commitment is not sufficient to meet the Paris Agreement goal to stay below 1.5°C of warming, necessary to limit the most catastrophic climate outcomes.
Continued government support for fossil fuels will make it difficult to meet these new targets. From January 2020 through March 3, 2021, 38 percent of the almost $70 billion Covid-19 recovery were subsidies for fossil fuels. Germany is still among the world's top 10 coal producers and has only committed to a phase out by 2038.
Germany is experiencing increasingly frequent and extreme heat events that threaten human health. Record-breaking floods linked to climate change in July resulted in the deaths of at least 189 people, including 12 people with disabilities living in a group home.
Read the full Germany World Report Chapter »
Indonesia, one of the world's top 10 emitters of greenhouse gases, is contributing to the climate crisis taking a mounting toll on human rights around the globe. In its 2021 update to its national climate action plan, Indonesia reiterated its 2016 goals, rather than establishing more ambitious targets as required by the Paris Agreement. Its climate plan is "critically insufficient" to meet the agreement's goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, according to The Climate Action Tracker. If all countries' commitments were in this range, the global temperature increase would exceed 4°C by the end of the century.
Government data released in March suggests deforestation dropped significantly between 2019 and 2020. Alternative estimates by Global Forest Watch (GFW) confirm a downward trend. In September, a government-mandated moratorium on new oil palm plantations lapsed. Despite an official ban on primary forest clearing in force since 2011, the latest GFW data indicates Indonesia lost 250,000 hectares in 2020. In November 2021, at the global climate summit in Glasgow, the Indonesian government signed a global pledge to end forest loss by 2030 – but its environment minister promptly criticized the pledge and vowed to continue clearing forests as part of 'development' plans.
Indonesia has taken few steps to move away from reliance on coal for electricity generation, a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. In May, the government said it would build more coal-fired power stations but would shut them all down in 2060. Indonesia could prevent tens of thousands of premature deaths linked to air pollution by rapidly reducing its reliance on coal-fired electricity.
Floods, droughts, sea level rise, changes in rainfall patterns, and warmer temperatures induced by climate change are expected to take a toll, requiring Indonesia to take steps to protect at-risk populations from their foreseeable harms. In January 2021, South Kalimantan and Borneo declared a state of emergency after heavy rainfall and flooding displaced tens of thousands.
Read the full Indonesia World Report Chapter »
As one of the world's top 10 emitters of greenhouse gases, Iran is contributing to the climate crisis taking a mounting toll on human rights around the globe. Most of its emissions are from the energy sector: 94 percent of Iran's electricity comes from fossil fuels. Iran is the eighth largest producer of crude oil and the third largest producer of natural gas but also has significant renewable energy potential. Energy costs are heavily subsidized, one of the factors leading to a high energy intensity per capita. Iran has taken few steps to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, regularly citing international sanctions as a barrier to transitioning towards cleaner energy. Iran is one of six countries that has not yet ratified the Paris Agreement.
There are longstanding concerns across Iran, and Khuzestan in particular, over mismanagement of water resources and pollution from oil development. For decades, environmental experts have warned that development projects in oil-rich Khuzestan, including the construction of hydroelectric dams, irrigation schemes, and water transfers to neighboring provinces are causing environmental harm and leading to water shortages affecting a range of rights.
Climate change is a serious threat to Iranian livelihoods including from increased temperatures, more frequent and intense forest fires, dust storms, inland flooding, and sea level rise. In 2021, droughts exacerbated long-standing pressures on water resources. The increasing frequency and intensity of droughts is projected to continue diminishing agricultural productivity compromising food security.
Read the full Iran World Report Chapter »
Japan is among the top 10 emitters of greenhouse gases responsible for the climate crisis that is taking a growing toll on human rights around the globe.
Then-Prime Minister Suga announced in October 2020 that Japan will cut emissions to net zero by 2050 and, in April 2021, announced an emissions reduction target of 46 percent by 2030, earning it an "almost sufficient" rating for its "Domestic Target" from the Climate Action Tracker.
Following the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011, Japan increased its reliance on fossil fuels, including coal to generate electricity. In July 2021, Japan released a draft of its 2030 strategic energy strategy that stated Japan would aim to reduce coal to 19 percent of energy use by 2030, just a 13 percentage point reduction from current levels. Japan's government, financial institutions, and industrial companies are also major providers of finance and technical support for development of overseas coal plants, second only to China. Despite announcements restricting coal lending, loopholes in these policies mean Japan continues to be a lender to a variety of high-emitting coal plans, including in Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Indonesia.
Climate change is expected to have a significant impact on Japan due to sea-level rise, increased summer heat, shifting precipitation patterns, and more frequent and intense extreme weather events. In August, the heaviest rain since 1982 caused flooding and landslides in some locations that left at least 13 people dead.
Read the full Japan World Report Chapter »
Kuwait, the world's seventh-largest exporter of crude oil, has the sixth-highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita globally, a considerable portion from air conditioning. As one of the world's hottest and most water-stressed countries, Kuwait is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The increasing frequency and intensity of heat waves, decreased precipitation, and rising sea levels pose risks to the right to health, life, water, and housing, especially of migrant workers.
Kuwait generates two-thirds of its electricity from burning oil but has no national climate change plan and has yet to submit its second Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), a Paris Agreement-mandated, five-year, national climate change action plan due at the end of 2020. Its first NDC contained no quantitative targets.
Read the full Kuwait World Report Chapter »
Although it acknowledged increased threats from climate change, the Solih government failed to adequately enforce environmental protection laws and launched reclamation projects that risked environmental harm, something the ruling party had criticized while in opposition. In September, the citizen-led environmental group Save Maldives sought a civil injunction to stop the government's development project in Gulhifalhu lagoon, arguing that it would destroy environmentally protected areas in violation of Maldivian law.
The government has yet to fulfill its pledge to restore the Environmental Protection Agency as an independent entity. Environmental impact assessments for new projects often lack genuine consultations with communities and proposed mitigation measures are rarely implemented.
Read the full Maldives World Report Chapter »
As one of the world's top 15 emitters of greenhouse gases, Mexico is contributing to the climate crisis that is taking a growing toll on human rights around the globe.
López Obrador has openly opposed wind and solar energy production. He has promised to rescue Mexico's coal and oil industries and has introduced reforms that favor state-owned fossil-fuel power plants over renewable energy sources. He has vowed to amend the constitution to overcome legal challenges to these policies.
López Obrador's initiative "Sowing Life," which he touts as a major component of his strategy to cut greenhouse gas emissions, may have caused 72,000 hectares of forest loss, with inadequate monitoring enabling beneficiaries to clear forests and then be paid by the government to plant trees. (López Obrador falsely claimed in November 2021 that a deal to end forest loss by 2030 reached at the global climate summit in Glasgow was inspired by "Sowing Life".) Law enforcement actions to curb illegal deforestation drastically diminished in recent years.
In its December 2020 climate action plan, Mexico increased the baseline against which its emissions reductions are calculated but maintained its 2015 emissions reduction commitments. This will allow Mexico to increase its emissions while technically meeting its targets. The plan is "insufficient" to meet the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, according to the Climate Action Tracker. If all countries' commitments were in a similar range, warming would reach up to 3°C by the end of the century.
Climate change is expected to increase the severity of extreme weather events, requiring steps by the government to protect at-risk populations from their foreseeable harms, including food insecurity due to rising temperatures and droughts impacting crops. In August 2021, hurricanes Grace and Nora caused flooding, landslides, and power outages in multiple states, killing at least nine people.
Read the full Mexico World Report Chapter »
As a significant contributor to the greenhouse gas emissions, Qatar is contributing to the climate crisis that is taking a growing toll on human rights around the globe. The country has the sixth highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita globally, a considerable portion from air conditioning. Qatar has taken few steps to move away from production and use of fossil fuels and instead is doubling down on producing liquified natural gas (LNG) for export. It has the world's third largest reserves of natural gas and until recently was the world's largest exporter of LNG. Qatar has yet to submit its second Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), a Paris Agreement-mandated five-year national climate change action plan due at the end of 2020. Its first NDC contained no quantitative targets.
As one of the world's hottest countries, Qatar is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Ninety-seven percent of Qatar's population lives along an exposed coastline making them particularly vulnerable to both sea level rise and extreme weather events.
Read the full Qatar World Report Chapter »
Environmental watchdogs continued to report physical attacks, harassment, intimidation, and prosecution of grassroot activists and environmental groups in different parts of the country.
In October authorities designated a prominent environmental defender, Yevgeniy Simonov, a "foreign agent."
As one of the world's top 10 emitters of greenhouse gases, Russia is contributing to the climate crisis that is taking a mounting toll on human rights around the globe. It is also the third largest producer of fossil fuels and a top gas exporter.
In its November 2020 update to its national climate action plan, Russia committed to reducing its emissions by 30 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The Climate Action Tracker rates Russia's domestic target as "highly insufficient" to meet the Paris Agreement goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
Russia has failed to protect its forests that absorb and store carbon. Rising deforestation, driven by illegal logging; increasingly destructive wildfires exacerbated by climate change; and poor fire management, have increased overall emissions. In the summer months, smoke from record breaking wildfires in Siberia's Sakha (Yakutia) region resulted in air pollution threatening the health of thousands of residents.
Permafrost, ground that has been frozen continuously for a minimum of two years and currently covers about 65 percent of Russian territory, is rapidly degrading across Russia's north, due to warming temperatures and more intense fires. This poses a threat to livelihoods and infrastructure, increasing the risk of industrial accidents.
In February, a court ordered the Russian mining company, Norilsk Nickel, to pay a US$2 billion fine over an oil spill that caused massive environmental destruction. Norilsk Nickel said the spill resulted from the impact of climate change on permafrost, upon which all their infrastructure is located. But investigative reporters emphasized the role played by company's failure to invest in infrastructure.
Read the full Russia World Report Chapter »
South Africa is among the top 20 emitters of greenhouse gases—and the top emitter in Africa. It is also among the world's top 10 coal producers and fourth biggest exporter, contributing to the climate crisis that is taking a growing toll on human rights around the globe. Although South Africa has included renewable energy in its energy mix, it continues to heavily rely on coal for 70 percent of energy demand, and government has declared that this will be the case for the foreseeable future.
In March, the government proposed its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), a Paris Agreement-mandated five-year national climate change action plan. In June 2021, the Presidential Climate Commissions recommended that the plan be strengthened to prevent warming greater than 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels, with the hope of averting some of the most dramatic impacts of climate change on at-risk populations.
As a water-scarce country, South Africa is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Droughts and storms have become more intense because of climate change. On 24 January 2021, Cyclone Eloise made landfall in South Africa's northern provinces, resulting in extreme flooding and the displacement of 3,200 people.
Read the full South Africa World Report Chapter »
United Arab Emirates
As one of the world's top 10 crude oil producers—and a top five per capita emitter of greenhouse gases—UAE is contributing to the climate crisis that is taking a mounting toll on human rights around the globe. The UAE has taken some positive steps to reduce emissions, including increased renewable energy capacity and removing some fossil fuel subsidies. Yet it maintains plans for significant fossil fuel use and production, both for export and domestic purposes. Its 2020 update to its national climate action plan—which pledges to reduce emissions by 23.5 percent by 2030—is "insufficient" to meet the Paris Agreement's goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, according to the Climate Action Tracker.
The UAE is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change including from extreme heat, increased droughts, and sea level rise, requiring the UAE to take steps to protect at-risk populations from their foreseeable harms. Eighty-five percent of its population lives along coastlines that are just several meters above sea level.
Read the full United Arab Emirates World Report Chapter »
The United Kingdom is among the top 20 emitters of the greenhouse gases responsible for the climate crisis taking a growing toll on human rights around the globe.
Prior to hosting the 2021 UN climate conference in October, it embraced ambitious emissions reduction targets—first through its national climate plan commitment to reduce emissions by 68 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, and in June 2021 through a legislated target to reach a 78 percent reduction by 2035 compared to 1990 levels. According to the Climate Action Tracker, the UK's 2030 target is aligned with the country's aim to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, and with the Paris Agreement goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. However, the UK is not on track to fulfill these commitments. Indeed, the UK continues to expand fossil fuel production and channels billions in domestic support to fossil fuels despite its commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.
According to the UK's climate advisory body, the UK's climate adaptation efforts have not kept pace with the country's increasing climate risks, including risks of heat-related health impacts, and climate impacts on infrastructure and food security.
In November, a regulation was adopted to restrict imports of agricultural commodities linked to illegal deforestation or the violations of laws pertaining to the ownership or use of land, as defined by the commodity's country of origin laws. Many of the essential aspects of the legislation, including the enforcement mechanisms and the commodities that are covered, are to be defined by the secretary of state. The government should have shown greater ambition by defining land rights along international human rights standards.
Read the full United Kingdom World Report Chapter »
Historically, the United States is by far the country that has most contributed to the climate crisis that is taking a mounting toll on human rights around the globe and remains amongst the world's top emitters.
President Biden announced he would prioritize addressing climate change, and rejoined the Paris Agreement on his first day in office. However, the United States' emissions reduction target in its national climate plan, is not sufficient to meet the Paris Agreement goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, according to the Climate Action Tracker. If all countries' commitments were in the same range, warming would reach just under 2°C, risking catastrophic human rights harms. Further, although the Biden administration has taken significant steps to reduce emissions, the United States is not on track to reach its target.
Heatwaves, hurricanes, and other extreme weather events linked to climate disproportionately impact marginalized populations in the United States. Authorities have not adequately protected at-risk populations—including pregnant people, people with disabilities, and older people—from such foreseeable impacts.
Read the full United States World Report Chapter »