2030 CLIMATE COUNTDOWN
Ayisha Siddiqa, a human rights and environmental justice activist and a youth fellow with the Climate Litigation Accelerator (CLX), was named one of Time magazine’s 2023 Women of the Year on March 2.
We invite you to explore and share the results of an investigation carried out with Forensic Architecture on land use in the Amazon Forest. Using FA’s cutting-edge architectural techniques and satellite technology, the investigation sheds light on the impact of government policies and narratives on land practices, human rights, and climate change as well as increases our partners’ access to innovative cutting-edge tools for climate action. As such, this first investigation established the correlation between policies adopted by the Bolsonaro administration, violent attacks against Yanomami villages, and environmental destruction. It particularly brought to light patterns of destruction and threats on Yanomami territory along the Uraricoera River due to gold mining.
The Climate Litigation Accelerator has published Litigating the Climate Emergency: How Human Rights, Courts, and Legal Mobilization Can Bolster Climate Action, which documents the rise of human rights and climate change (HRCC) litigation around the world. It includes contributions from leading litigators, advocates, researchers, and practitioners from the Global South and North, comprising a rich and interdisciplinary text. If you’re interested in learning more about rights-based climate litigation, this book is the place to go! The book is open access and available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
A recent intervention to the European Court of Human Rights argued that particularly vulnerable groups, like the elderly, can indeed be considered victims despite the effects of climate change on the general population. It also argued that certain provisions of the Paris Agreement informed countries’ human rights obligations and the steps they must take to combat climate change.
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CLX Director and Founder César Rodríguez-Garavito was featured in a recent Knowable Magazine article on the promises and challenges of litigation as a tool to secure action on climate change.
To read the full article, “The challenges and promises of climate lawsuits,” please visit the Knowable Magazine site here.
by NYU Law
Ayisha Siddiqa, a human rights and environmental justice activist and a youth fellow with the Law School’s Climate Litigation Accelerator (CLX), was named one of Time magazine’s 2023 Women of the Year on March 2.
Read more here
by César Rodríguez Garavito
If human rights are to remain relevant in the Anthropocene, budding theoretical, doctrinal, and advocacy efforts from within the field to address the climate emergency need to be deepened and expanded.
by CLX & Forensic Architecture
by César Rodríguez-Garavito (ed.)
The Climate Litigation Accelerator has published Litigating the Climate Emergency: How Human Rights, Courts, and Legal Mobilization Can Bolster Climate Action, which documents the rise of human rights and climate change (HRCC) litigation around the world. It includes contributions from leading litigators, advocates, researchers, and practitioners from the Global South and North, comprising a rich and interdisciplinary text. If you’re interested in learning more about rights-based climate litigation, this book is the place to go!
The book is open access and available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
by CLX, Christina Voigt, & CHRGJ
CLX – in collaboration with Professor Christina Voigt and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice – submitted an intervention in the Swiss Senior Women v. Switzerland case currently before the European Court of Human Rights. In this intervention, they examined the court precedent that demonstrates that the elderly can rightfully be considered victims of climate change even though global warming has at least some effects on everyone. They also explained how certain provisions of the Paris Agreement interact with countries’ human rights obligations such that developed countries must act swiftly to bring emissions to net zero.
In a bold, unanimous decision, Hawai’i’s highest court issued a landmark decision rejecting a power purchase agreement between the Hawai’i Electric Light Company and an energy company, Hu Honua Bio Energy LLC.
The majority opinion emphasized the constitutional duty on the state of Hawaii to protect the right to a clean and healthy environment. The concurring opinion of Justice Wilson went even further, finding that the right to a clean and healthy environment is subsumed in the due process right to “life, liberty, and property” as well as in “the public trust doctrine,” which requires the conservation and protection of natural resources “for the benefit of present and future generations.”
A coastal municipality in France particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change successfully challenged the federal government’s inaction on climate change. The Conseil d’Etat ordered the federal government to take all necessary actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, on the basis of its domestic and international climate obligations. Since the judgment was issued, the Conseil d’Etat has ordered the federal government to pay two penalty payments in light of its failure to take adequate steps to implement the decision.
— By Jessica Palairet
23-year-old Mark McVeigh sued his superannuation fund, REST, alleging it breached its disclosure obligations and fiduciary duties related to the climate-related financial risks of its investments. After the first day of the three-day trial, the parties settled the case, and REST publicly agreed to a range of new climate-friendly investment commitments. Although the case settled out of court, it was a ground-breaking case, testing the climate-related financial risk and fiduciary duties of retail pension funds in Australia for the first time.
In October 2021, the Federal Court of Australia declined to dismiss a novel class action lawsuit brought by a 23-year-old law student alleging that the Australian government misled or deceived sovereign bond investors by failing to disclose the risks of climate change.
The plaintiff’s claim against the Australian government is the first of its kind internationally. If Ms. O’Donnell (the plaintiff) wins, it could have a major impact globally on the way that governments disclose financial risks and on directors and officers across the financial sector.
In the face of devastating deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, an NGO seeks the recognition of a fundamental right to a stable climate. In IEA v. Brazil, the plaintiff NGO seeks not only an order requiring the federal government to comply with national climate law, but also the recognition of a new fundamental right to a stable climate for present and future generations. If successful, it will be a significant and exciting development in rights-based climate litigation.
— By Jessica Palairet
Climate litigation often focuses on the Global North. But one of the earliest, most prominent rights-based climate cases was brought in the Global South, in Pakistan, where the Lahore High Court found that the government breached its human rights obligations under the Pakistani Constitution by failing to implement a climate framework law and take sufficiently urgent action on climate change.
Like many Global South countries, Pakistan is not a major contributor to climate change but is particularly vulnerable to its impacts, already suffering the consequences of extreme weather events and food and water shortages. The Court made history by accepting the argument that the government’s failures to adequately implement its climate change policies violated Mr. Leghari’s fundamental rights and taking active steps to compel the government to implement its climate change policies.
In a landmark decision brought by a First Nations-led group of young people, the Land Court of Queensland has recommended that a major proposed coal mine should not go ahead because of its contribution to climate change, its environmental impacts, and the unjustifiable limitations on human rights that it would pose.
In a landmark case, Indigenous islanders claimed, in front of the UN Human Rights Committee, that the Australian government was responsible for rights violations stemming from climate impacts suffered by the Torres Strait Islands communities. The Committee, in a major victory for rights-based climate litigation, agreed: the Australian government, by failing to take steps to protect the Island communities from the current and predicted impacts of climate change, violated its obligations under international human rights law.
— By Verena Kahl
In order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, exploration for new fossil fuel reserves must stop. In spite of this, fossil fuel companies like Shell continue to make plans to develop new oil and gas reserves. This includes Shell’s plans to conduct seismic surveys for oil and gas reserves off the coast of South Africa. In response, a coalition of NGOs and communities asked the High Court of South Africa to issue a temporary order restraining Shell from proceeding with these surveys until the Court can assess the validity of the project. The High Court sided with the plaintiffs, blocking the seismic surveys until the case is ultimately resolved.
— By Jackie Gallant
September 29, 2021
This webinar explored the legal implications of the historic Milieudefensie v. Royal Dutch Shell case, wherein a Dutch court found that Shell has a duty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
October 28, 2021
According to an Australian court, the government has a duty to take reasonable care not to harm children and young people in approving fossil fuel projects. The implications of this case – Sharma v. Minister for the Environment were examined in this webinar.
November 18, 2021
Though fossil fuels have rightfully been the target of sustained climate legal action, not enough attention has been paid to another major driver of climate change: animal agriculture. This webinar explores the overlap between animal agriculture and climate change and its implications for cases.
December 2, 2021
EACOP, if built, would be the world’s largest heated crude oil pipeline. Given the climate, human rights, and environmental harms that the pipeline would generate, litigators brought a case challenging it to the East African Court. This webinar examined the scientific and legal aspects of the case.
January 27, 2022
This webinar explored the psychological impacts of climate change, particularly on youth, and what these impacts mean for climate litigation and human rights law, including legal avenues that may be open to climate litigators as a result of new research on climate anxiety.
March 3, 2022
This webinar explores the Sustaining the Wild Coast v. Shell case, which succeeded in temporarily blocking Shell from conducting seismic surveys off the South African Wild Coast.
March 29, 2022
This webinar explores the powerful role of youth climate activism in pushing climate legal action forward and will feature three youth climate leaders.