Arnie throws weight behind effort for global environment pact

French President Emmanuel Macron with Mr Arnold Schwarzenegger in Paris last week. The US actor turned climate activist is part of a global group seeking to launch a pact to protect the environment.
French President Emmanuel Macron with Mr Arnold Schwarzenegger in Paris last week. The US actor turned climate activist is part of a global group seeking to launch a pact to protect the environment.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARIS • Hollywood star turned activist Arnold Schwarzenegger has joined politicians and legal experts to launch a campaign for a global pact to protect the human right to a clean, healthy environment.

French President Emmanuel Macron promised last Saturday to present the pact - which its supporters want to see become an international treaty - to the United Nations in September.

"With the planetary plan, we need to move on to a new stage after the Paris accord," said Mr Macron, referring to the landmark agreement signed in December 2015 by 196 nations to take steps to reduce greenhouse gases and combat global warming.

The end goal of the pact is a legal treaty under which states can be brought to justice for flouting the rights of a group or individual.

"We already have two international (human rights) pacts... The idea is to create a third, for a third generation of rights - environmental rights," said former French prime minister Laurent Fabius, who also presided over the COP 21 conference on climate change.

Seeking to underline the urgency of the need to act, Mr Fabius said it was time for "less talk, more action", borrowing the turn of phrase from Mr Schwarzenegger. The former California governor was joined by ex-UN chief Ban Ki Moon at the Paris event. Other participants at the meeting held at the Sorbonne University included high court judges from several countries.

The initiative comes just weeks after President Donald Trump announced he would pull the United States out of the Paris deal on curbing dangerous global warming.

UNIVERSAL CONCERN

This is not the right versus the left because there is no liberal air or conservative air. We all breathe the same air. There is no liberal water or conservative water, we all drink the same water.

MR ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, on how climate change cannot be a partisan issue.

But Mr Schwarzenegger in his campaigning to fight climate change said it must not be a partisan political issue. "It is absolutely imperative that we not make it a political issue," he said after meeting Mr Macron last Friday.

"This is not the right versus the left because there is no liberal air or conservative air. We all breathe the same air. There is no liberal water or conservative water, we all drink the same water," said the star of The Terminator movies.

The new pact will eventually be put to the UN for adoption, and impose legally-binding obligations on signatory states, its drafters say. The earlier covenants - one for social, economic and cultural rights, the other for civil and political rights - were adopted in 1966.

Mr Fabius said the new text will outline rights and duties, provide for reparations to be made in case of a breach, and introduce the "polluter pays" principle, holding them legally responsible or compelling them to adopt green laws.

That would be in marked contrast to earlier declarations such as that made following the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio which was not legally binding.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2017, with the headline 'Arnie throws weight behind effort for global environment pact'. Print Edition | Subscribe