Climate change: Politicians fail to deliver justice.Lawyers and scientists can do it in court

This is a simple but strong message-although the negotiators reached an agreement to postpone the action, Tuvalu and other Pacific island nations are sinking in rising sea levels and may be completely swallowed up by the end of this century at the earliest.

The judge reserved — or postponed — the decision to give more consideration on Thursday, which may be interpreted as the court taking the case seriously.

The case was first filed in May But the court refused to hear the case for multiple reasons, Including questions about whether the British courts have any impact on the lives of people in other countries.

Three activists-Adetola Stephanie Onamade, Marina Tricks and Jerry Amokwandoh, all in their 20s-and the charity project Earth Project are trying to challenge the whole concept. These activists have the heritage of Nigeria and Trinidad, Mexico and Ghana respectively, and believe that historical emitters have a responsibility to take care of people in the southern hemisphere, such as their relatives.

“[The previous court] Dismissed the idea that our family life includes our families around the world or our families,” Amokwandoh told CNN before Thursday’s decision. “They said your family can only be limited to the British Isles. This is a colonial mentality. “

Tricks said that they are specifically targeting fossil fuel projects under construction, including proposed coal mines in northwest England under review, and oil exploration in the North Sea.

Tricks said: “We were finally screwed up by this system and this government because it provided funding for the climate crisis.” “It is actively funding mining projects that pollute our land, waters and air.”

A spokesman for the British government said: “We do not comment on ongoing legal proceedings.”

This kind of litigation is something that the British government and many people around the world must get used to. In another case, some militants supported by an organization called Paid to Pollute will bring the Johnson administration to the High Court on December 8 to prevent the flow of state funds into new fossil fuel projects.

The organization stated that according to the Paris Agreement, the British government spent £13.6 billion on oil and gas subsidies between 2016 and 2020. The agreement promised the world to work hard to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, but 1.5 is best. Degrees Celsius. It said that most of the funds are used for tax relief for new oil and gas exploration and production.

According to data from the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and Environment at the London School of Economics, the number of legal cases related to climate change has more than doubled globally since 2015. According to its latest report issued in July, more than 800 cases were filed between 1986 and 2014, but more than 1,000 cases have been filed since the year the Paris Agreement was signed.

Kathleen Highham, coordinator of the Grantham Institute’s Global Climate Change Law Project, said: “We have seen many groups use the courts to try to advance climate action because the political process may be frustrated.”

She said these cases have brought some kind of “interaction” between court rulings and politics.In one situation In April, the German youth took him to the country’s Constitutional CourtFor example, the court ruled that the government needs to advance its climate plan to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. The legal decision sparked more political debate about the climate, and the government eventually pushed its plan beyond the court order.

“We have seen plaintiffs use the court to try to advance climate action, but at the same time use it as a tool to push the boundaries of political debate,” she said.

Large fossil fuel companies have also become the target of litigation.A Dutch court in The Hague made Landmark ruling against oil giant Shell in May, Ordering the company to reduce its emissions by 45% from 2019 levels by 2030 to comply with the Paris Agreement. Shell is appealing the decision.

The ruling may be truly transformative. For companies like Shell, it is difficult to reduce their emissions by 45% without converting large amounts of oil into renewable or low-emission energy.

While countries are arguing over who should pay for the climate crisis, a community on Lagos Island is being swallowed by the sea

Higham said the decision may pave the way for the court to make similar rulings against other major emitters. France is hearing a similar case against French oil giant Total.

“One of the differences between the Shell case and other cases is that the court did not consider compensation, but issued a forward-looking order on what Shell needs to do-stating that what Shell is doing is not enough,” she said. Said.

“Although we cannot say how other cases, such as the case against Total, will eventually draw conclusions, these cases are likely to lead to similar judgments against many other companies, or at least, there will be more actions based on the Shell case. On the basis provided.”

Science finally has a say in court

Climate scientists have long lamented The huge gap between science and political action. But for a long time, they were also largely excluded from another area of ​​power-the court system.

Bill Hare, a senior scientist and chief executive officer of the think tank Climate Analysis, said that today, courts are increasingly considering science in climate-related rulings.

“The courts are studying scientific claims, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report pays more and more attention to them,” Hale said, referring to the release of the landmark United Nations climate science report every six to seven years. It was published in August, when a wave of extreme weather events occurred in the northern hemisphere.

“According to the science of the IPCC, there is still a huge gap between what countries put forward in terms of emission commitments and what they need, so this is another aspect that the court will focus on,” Hale said.

“I think this will be a very challenging thing for the government. We have seen this in the past 12 to 24 months, and it will only grow.”

More and more climate scientists are required to share their expertise in courts, and as they become more adept at establishing clear links between the emissions of countries and companies and their impacts (such as heat waves or wildfires). space. This even happened in cross-border cases.

An example is the case against Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro by an Austrian militant group called AllRise. The organization is requesting the International Criminal Court to hear the case. They say Bolsonaro’s policy of allowing the Amazon to quickly deforest has released emissions that cause climate change, causing death and actual loss and harming people’s livelihoods.

Scientists can estimate how much carbon dioxide and methane these policies emit, and find that they account for about 1% of the world’s global greenhouse gases each year. They wrote in the case submitted by experts that this is roughly the same as the total emissions in the UK.

Brazil's Bolsonaro was accused of crimes against humanity in the International Criminal Court for his record on Amazon

They also found that by 2100, emissions will cause the death of more than 180,000 people worldwide due to high temperatures. This is true even if global emissions are substantially reduced.

“Climate change will kill people. Bolsonaro’s politics will not only increase emissions, but also increase the intensity of heat waves, which will affect the lives of people all over the world, and of course, it is destroying local livelihoods,” says from the organization Friederike Otto said. The Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, he was one of the scientists behind the written submission of the case.

“This kind of environmental destruction, at this level, you should be counted as a crime against humanity, because it destroys livelihoods on a large scale.”

The Bolsonaro government did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Otto also led the World Weather Attribution Project, a group of scientists using modeling and data analysis to estimate the contribution of climate change to extreme weather events.

The historic Northwest heat wave is

This kind of science is useful in tort law cases, when the court needs to assess the civil error that caused loss or damage.

“I think this is also important in Bolsonaro’s example, because you can no longer hide behind generics,” Otto said. “It is not some vague offspring who suffer. It is the specific people here who are losing their livelihoods and the specific dollars that someone has to pay.”

What is truly unique about the Bolsonaro case is that it is very difficult to conduct international litigation on climate issues. For example, there is no international court specifically for climate crimes, and even the International Criminal Court has its limitations. It may be constrained by its own power politics, and some countries refuse to cooperate when they are involved.

ClientEarth is a non-profit organization that provides legal services and advice in climate cases. The organization has achieved many successes, including the case that caused Poland to stop building coal-fired power plants in 2020.

Sophie Marjanac, a lawyer for the organization, told CNN that COP26’s failure to develop a plan to compensate for the impact of the climate was “no less than a betrayal.”

“Climate change is inherently unequal: its effects—such as drought, heatwaves, and sea level rise—are felt most in the most irresponsible countries. This is clearly a human rights issue,” she said.

“When the government does not take action, lawsuits will increasingly be used to hold them accountable.”


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