Kenne deine Rechte

The forgotten crisis

In times of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is temptingly easy to forget about yet another ongoing crisis – one that arguably even has a more considerable impact on the future of the planet than the pandemic: namely the climate crisis. But can one person even make a difference when it comes to climate change?

No stable climate – no human rights

Floods have always been an issue in certain regions, but because of the climate crisis, they have been exacerbated. In India, for example (depicted in the image above), roads were cut off, 24 people lost their lives, 17 went missing, and more than 2,000 houses were damaged due to a flood in November 2021.  [1]

In fact, the climate crisis is a major threat to a fairly broad range of human rights. For instance, the changes in the environment brought about by global warming can force individuals to leave their homes, which infringes the right to adequate housing. Furthermore, floods, which occur more frequently due to climate change, may destroy water sources and sanitation facilities, which precipitates water scarcity. In turn, the right to water and sanitation is violated by this natural phenomenon. [2] Yet another human right that is endangered as a result of the climate crisis is in all likelihood one of the most fundamental ones: namely the right to life. Shockingly, “climatic changes already are estimated to cause over 150,000 deaths annually”. [3] Without a stable climate, a myriad of human rights – for instance, the rights to life, health, and water – are simply not realisable. [4]

Can one person even make a difference in stopping the climate crisis?

Understandably, when someone is particularly worried about climate change, they might make a lot of changes to their everyday life in order to help combat the climate crisis. But can they really make a difference by doing so, or are their efforts all in vain? In fact, efforts like recycling do have an impact – especially when the actions of an individual inspire other people, such as the person’s family, friends, colleagues, and neighbours. [4] Consequently, while one person might not be able to save the world entirely on their own, they can – by being a positive role model for others – do their part to aid in mitigating climate change.

Of course, this should be taken with a grain of salt since world leaders tend to make the individual responsible for combatting climate change. Studies show that even if every human on the planet lived sustainably, it would not come close to the effect of some few companies changing their production cycles. However, in the words of Greta Thunberg: “And yes, I know we need a system change rather than individual change. But you can not have one without the other.”

What should I do against climate change?

Engaging in recycling, using glass bottles instead of plastic bottles, or a cloth bag instead of a plastic bag: there are various ways to implement climate-friendly actions in one’s day-to-day life. Moreover, buying second-hand goods and donating items that you do not need any longer can also play a part in reducing your carbon footprint. Other options would be utilising a clothesline instead of a clothes dryer, using LED bulbs, saving water, and, last but not least, considering alternatives to air travel and car travel.

In conclusion, human rights protection means fighting climate change. If individual action and system change are combined to combat the climate crisis, a myriad of the above-mentioned human rights violations caused by global warming can be stopped.


[1] India – Andhra Pradesh Floods Turn Deadly – FloodList

[2] Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and climate change | UNICEF

[3] WHO | Climate change

[4] OHCHR | OHCHRs work on human rights and climate change

[5] Can One Person Make A Difference With Climate Change? Experts Insist Your Voice Matters (

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