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Basic RightsSubsistence, Affluence, and U.S. Foreign Policy: 40th Anniversary Edition$
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Henry Shue

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691202280

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691202280.001.0001

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Basic Rights and Climate Change (2020)

Basic Rights and Climate Change (2020)

(p.181) 8 Basic Rights and Climate Change (2020)
Basic Rights

Henry Shue

Princeton University Press

This chapter addresses the greatest threat to basic rights in the twenty-first century: uncontrolled climate change. Climate change is a threat not only to widely acknowledged basic rights but also to all other rights, the protection of which depends on fulfillment of basic rights. The basic right to subsistence is obviously threatened by the global energy regime of fossil fuels. The most dangerous effects for humans of the combustion of fossil fuels come indirectly by way of the dynamics of rapid climate change and the effects of climate change on the fundamental interests that basic rights are intended to safeguard—on none more than on the food at the heart of subsistence. The chapter then highlights the danger that economic and political agreements made by others will make it impossible for ordinary people to provide such elements of subsistence for themselves by trapping them inside social structures that conflict with their fundamental interests. One might say that climate change is a threat that humanity is imposing upon itself.

Keywords:   basic rights, climate change, subsistence rights, global energy regime, fossil fuels, economic agreements, political agreements

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