Brazil and US 'Rolling Back' on Climate Action, Says UN Rights Chief

AFP

Geneva: The UN's human rights chief on Thursday accused Brazil and the United States of "rolling back" on environmental protection, while praising the European Union for taking "ambitious action" to reduce emissions.

"Protection of our environment is fundamental to the enjoyment of all human rights," Michelle Bachelet told the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

"The United States is... rolling back environmental protections, including for waterways and wetlands.

"Untreated pollutants may now be poured directly into millions of miles of streams and rivers, putting ecosystems, drinking water and human health at risk."

US President Donald Trump's administration last year revoked waterway regulations adopted under his predecessor Barack Obama in a move that was widely condemned by conservationists but celebrated by farmers and developers.

Bachelet said moves to weaken fuel emission standards and decreased regulation on the oil and gas industries in the US under Trump "could also harm human rights".

The UN rights chief, the former president of Chile, also needled the US over its migration policies saying they "raise significant human rights concerns".

"Reducing the number of people trying to enter the country should not be done in disregard of asylum and migrant protections. The situation of children in detention is of particular concern," she said.

Turning to Brazil, she pointed to "significant rollbacks of policies to protect the environment and indigenous peoples' rights" under far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro, a climate change sceptic, has been widely criticised for easing restrictions on exploiting the Amazon's vast riches, leading to accelerated deforestation.

In contrast, Bachelet welcomed EU "leadership" on the environment through the adoption of a "Green Deal" plan to finance its goal of making the bloc carbon neutral by 2050.

"It couples ambitious action within the EU with a strong dimension of external action, engaging both climate diplomacy and green cooperation aid.

"Implementation of this plan will greatly advance enjoyment of the right to a healthy environment, and I encourage strong social measures to ensure that just transitions leave no one behind," Bachelet said.