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NGOs Affirm: the Right to Science is Critical for Protecting the Range of Human Rights
Geneva, CH Following the release of the Special Rapporteur on Toxics and Human Rights, Professor Marcos A. Orellana’s report, “Right to science in the context of toxic substances” at the 48th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) issued the following statements:
After the presentation, Giulia Carlini, Senior Attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), said:
“As the report highlights, ‘The right to science provides humanity with the tools to confront the severe toxification of the planet and its people.’ Companies have continuously used pressure or misleading tactics to delay or prevent regulations that would otherwise classify their products as toxic and prevent them from entering the market. This ranges from highly hazardous pesticides to endocrine disruptors, from plastics to “forever chemicals” PFAS.
“As long as businesses, profits, and other opportunists spread misinformation and distort the science underlying the regulation of toxics, it will be impossible to protect a broad range of human rights. Policymakers and the general public, in particular in impacted communities, need to have unimpeded access to independent and unbiased science. Finally, governments have a duty to align their policies on toxics with the best scientific evidence and apply the precautionary principle. “
Pamela Miller, co-chairs at the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) commented:
“We are facing existential crises with escalating climate warming and epidemics of health problems associated with toxic exposures. Policymakers must no longer allow vested-interest science to obstruct protective and precautionary action. Our health and human rights depend on independent science to inform solutions and policies that will safeguard the health and well-being of present and future generations.
“The power and potential of the right to science for empowering individuals, strengthening communities, and improving the quality of life can hardly be overstated. We call on policy makers worldwide to prioritize transparency of information over profit and to establish clear and effective mechanisms to use industry funding for scientific research while preserving the independence of scientists.”
Nikki Reisch, Director of the Climate & Energy Program at the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), concluded:
“The climate crisis is exhibit A in the case for the right to science. Through sophisticated, decades-long misinformation and disinformation campaigns, the oil industry denied, distorted, and derailed the science of climate change, delaying crucial action to halt global warming and end reliance on the fossil fuels that drive it. We are paying the price for that violation of the right to science today. And the violations are ongoing. Tactics have changed, but the playbook remains the same: Instead of denying climate reality, fossil fuel companies are deceiving the public into believing their products can be “carbon-free”.
“This timely report denounces such corporate greenwashing and defends the need for conflict-free, science-based policy-making. Private industry should not have a stranglehold on research into matters of public interest, like climate change and viable solutions to it. Nor should they shape how science is taught in schools.
“Scientific advances in climate attribution put corporate accountability for the crisis within reach, and renewable energy breakthroughs make a safer future possible. But to tap that potential and debunk false solutions, the public must have unfettered access to the best available science, free from corporate influence.”
Cate Bonacini, email@example.com, +1-202-742-5847