Filling your Shopping Cart to Get Article 6 Right. Item 1: Human Rights

Dear Negotiators, you’ve seen your Article 6 shopping list, now ECO’s here to help you read the labels and understand exactly what it entails. Because you don’t want to buy the wrong thing - and knowing the details will help you make the right purchase. In Article 6, it is crucial to get everything right before going forward, otherwise it could all go horribly wrong.  

ECO wants to get you up to speed on human rights. “But why?” – you might ask – “when what we are discussing is markets?” Because ultimately, climate action is about people. And climate action, whether it’s through Article 6 activities or other climate finance projects, must not harm people and the environment. We know Article 6 activities can lead to harm, and often to those on the frontlines of the climate crisis, because we’ve seen it before (think Kyoto Protocol markets). Climate action shouldn’t lead to human tragedies. And climate action that displaces people, floods their lands, causes biodiversity loss, undermines ecosystem integrity, and infringes on their rights to food and water surely isn’t sustainable development. But don’t worry, ECO’s here to help you not repeat these past mistakes, and to ensure that you have all the necessary rules for Article 6. So here’s how to get Article 6 right on human rights. 

First, prevent any harm from happening by requiring that activities meet robust social and environmental safeguards. Don’t be afraid. These aren’t new concepts and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The UNFCCC’s own operating entities under its financial mechanism, the GEF and the GCF, have them and they cover a wide range of issues including human rights, the rights of indigenous peoples, gender equality, and protection of biodiversity. All of these are critical and you won’t be able to achieve sustainable development without them.

Second, talk to people. The Article 6 rules must include having meaningful participation of local communities and indigenous peoples, including ensuring respect for indigenous peoples’ right to free, prior and informed consent on the projects – not just once everything is already in place, but early on in the design of the activity and continuously throughout. This is good for markets too, because when people are involved in their planning, projects are more sustainable, provide multiple benefits beyond just mitigation, and protect biodiversity and ecosystem integrity.  

Third, establish an independent grievance mechanism. Because even when you put in place rules and safeguards, things can go wrong (... Barro Blanco, Alto Maipo, Bujagali ... ) and communities need a place to go to receive remedy when these harms occur. This is a massive gap in the Kyoto Protocol mechanisms and it must be addressed as a priority under the Paris Agreement. Now’s the chance to make sure this gap doesn’t persist. And make sure the grievance mechanism is independent from the proposed Supervisory Body. Independence is key to legitimacy and addressing the grievances in a real and meaningful way. 

Article 6 activities that harm people and the environment aren’t good for the market and certainly aren’t sustainable development. It’s not enough to have rules for Article 6, they have to be the right rules. Now is your opportunity.

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