Tribune. The question of whether we will be collectively able to respond to climate change is indeed the business of our century. Because the climate concerns us all, with significant impacts on ecosystems, our health, our ability to live on this planet, and obviously on our economies and our political models.
But also, on social justice, because it is becoming more and more obvious that we are not all affected in the same way by climate changes, across the world, as well as in our territories; and that in the same way, we are not fairly protected. States have no more the right to violate the fundamental rights of citizens than not to act for the climate. It is one and the same fight.
The climate is therefore a matter of justice, and not just politics. Or to put it more clearly: if the means and methods of action for the climate are indeed a matter of political choices, acting for the climate should already be understood everywhere as an obligation imposed on public authorities, and even more so within democracies. and rule of law.
A thousand legal actions
This is what each of us is defending in our country, it is also what young Portuguese people are defending against thirty or so European states from which we are still awaiting a political reaction commensurate with the climate challenge. Over the past ten years, more than a thousand climate justice actions have been identified around the world. Among them, that of Urgenda has won victory after victory since 2015, until the very last, in December 2019, before the Dutch Supreme Court.
This decision, from the highest court of one of the member states of the European Union (EU), should inspire courts around the world. In its judgment, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that, on the basis of fundamental human rights, the Netherlands have a duty to do their fair share in tackling the climate crisis and therefore must reduce their emissions faster than in what the policy of the time was prepared to undertake. The rights and principles applied by the Dutch Supreme Court are universal. Concomitant with the launch of “The Case of the Century”, it must also inform the decision which will be that of the French judges.
States have no more the right to violate the fundamental rights of citizens than not to act for the climate. It’s one and the same fight
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