Climate Change

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The ECtHR’s Pending Climate Change Case: What’s Ill-Treatment Got To Do With It?

On 30 November, the Court made headlines when it communicated its first climate change case. The application was brought by six Portuguese children and young people, with the crowd-funded support of the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN). The respondents are 33 Member States of the Council of Europe, and the case – which was taken directly to the Court without exhausting domestic instances in the respondent jurisdictions – has many hoping for a landmark ruling on climate change to succeed the Dutch Urgenda case. This application, dubbed Duarte Agostinho and Others v. Portugal and Others by the Court, is innovative in a number of ways. It was brought against all 27 EU countries, plus Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK, and Ukraine. It alleges that the contribution by each of these States to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions means that they share responsibility for the existing and impending harms caused by global warming and climate change. Furthermore, the applicants make an argument based on extraterritorial jurisdiction for significant transboundary environmental harm,…

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People v Arctic Oil before Supreme Court of Norway – What’s at stake for human rights protection in the climate crisis?

During the past week, the Norwegian Supreme Court has been hearing the People v Arctic Oil case, a rights-based challenge to the Norwegian State’s grant of petroleum exploration licenses. The case raises myriad questions of significance regarding States’ human rights obligations in the context of climate change. Here, we consider two of them: the geographic scope…

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Climate change and the European Court of Human Rights: The Portuguese Youth Case

On 3 September, six Portuguese children and young adults (aged 8 to 21) issued an Application to the European Court of Human Rights (“ECtHR”) against 33 Council of Europe Member States (all of the EU 27, plus the UK, Switzerland, Norway, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine) in respect of the profound, ongoing, and worsening impact that climate change is having upon…

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The Supreme Court of Ireland’s decision in Friends of the Irish Environment v Government of Ireland (“Climate Case Ireland”)

On 31 July 2020, the Supreme Court of Ireland quashed the government’s National Mitigation Plan, the centrepiece of the Irish government’s climate mitigation policy, because the Plan failed to specify the manner in which it was proposed to achieve the “national transition objective,” as required under the 2015 Climate Act. The “national transition objective” is…

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Emissions Trading: As COP26 is delayed by COVID-19, some thoughts on the international linking of domestic schemes

Introduction Last month, the COP26 UN climate change conference set to take place in Glasgow in November 2020 was postponed due to COVID-19.  One consequence: agreement on the rules for a global emissions trading scheme under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement will be deferred again, to at least 2021.  As agreement…

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