Climate change is currently the most significant and daunting international environmental problem, with disproportionate and devastating impacts on indigenous groups. The plight of the Inuit is illustrative of a larger need to recognize and enforce international environmental human rights violations. Part I of this Article examines the evolution of various approaches to environmental human rights theories in (1) United States law, (2) international human rights law instruments, and (3) the laws of other nations. Part II considers the scientific evidence and legal theory underlying the Inuit petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and explores how this scenario underscores the need for a more viable avenue and forum to redress international environmental human rights violations. Part III explores other theories of recovery, addressing the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) and proposing two types of potentially viable new theories for environmental human rights claims under the ATCA. In addition to environmental human rights claims under the ATCA, Part III further suggests that (1) listing polar bears as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act and (2) requiring human rights impact assessments are additional useful steps in addressing climate change impacts. The Article concludes that more effective relief needs to be fashioned.
Randall S. Abate, Climate Change, the United States, and the Impacts of Arctic Melting: A Case Study in the Need for Enforceable International Environmental Human Rights, 26 A Stan. Envtl. L. J. 3 (2007)