New Delhi: United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Monday said that climate change is a rapidly growing and a global threat to human rights and underlined that incidents like forest fires raging in the Amazon is “burning up our future”.

“Climate change is a reality that now affects every region of the world. The human implications of currently projected levels of global heating are catastrophic. Storms are rising and tides could submerge entire island nations and coastal cities. Fires rage through our forests, and the ice is melting. We are burning up our future – literally,” she said addressing the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council meeting here.

“World Health Organisation (WHO) expects climate change to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050 – from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress alone. In many nations, chaotic weather patterns and other manifestations of our environmental emergency are already reversing major development gains, exacerbating conflict, displacement and social tension, hampering economic growth; and shaping increasingly harsh inequalities,” she said.

Bachelet underlined that the Council recognised that “human rights obligations, standards and principles have the potential to inform and strengthen international, regional and national policymaking in the area of climate change, promoting policy coherence, legitimacy and sustainable outcomes”.

“We need to act on that powerful statement. We need strong national commitments for action, with an emphasis on participation by environmental human rights defenders, indigenous peoples, and civil society groups representing the communities that are most at risk – as well as support from business actors, cities and other active stakeholders,” she said.

She urged countries to contribute to the strongest possible action to prevent climate change and to promote the resilience and rights of the people of their respective nations in dealing with environmental harm.

“Effective action on climate requires bringing the uncommitted and unconvinced into a shared, just and truly international effort. Human rights can help galvanise that movement. Today, a very uneven mosaic of environmental and human rights standards stands between human beings and environmental harm – and many have no effective recourse for the harm they suffer,” Bachelet remarked.

She also said that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will convene a summit on climate change in New York in the next two weeks to step up efforts to tackle the global issue.