This is the second of two tracks I’m doing this week. It’s on the environment, and indeed, the impact on our planet of global climate change. Maybe human rights has nothing to do with this – the catastrophes that unfold now, it seems, weekly. Worse, perhaps we’re joining in on some bandwagon, seeking to promote ourselves by reference to the latest big issue. Perhaps even, human rights hinder environmental protection. It’s true that our emphasis on individuality and on our species is not particularly helpful here.
But I argue in this essay that human rights are essential to good environmental protection. And I argue too, that it’s from protection for the environment and concern for our planet, that human rights can develop a kind of understanding which goes a long way towards universalising the instincts that I say make our subject work. So not only do trees need rights, I’d say our planet has them, and it’s up to us – our species – to deliver on their behalf.