Climate Change

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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 them. The effects that the Applicants are suffering, and will suffer in the future, are squarely within the ambit of their rights to life and private and family life, under Articles 2 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”). They also argue that the increasing effects that they are set to suffer over the course of their lifetimes entail discrimination on grounds of age, and therefore breach Article 14, when read with Articles 2 and 8. The Applicants allege specifically that the Respondents are failing to sufficiently reduce their “territorial” emissions and, further, to take responsibility for their contributions to “overseas” emissions entailed by (a) their export of fossil fuels, (b) the import of goods…

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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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The Curious Fate of the Doha Amendment

The Doha Amendment has yet formally to enter into force. However, as this note will explain, this treaty is already producing most of its intended legal effects. The Doha Amendment The 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) created a regime aimed at mitigating climate change. Five years later, the Kyoto…

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Risky business: Uniper’s potential investor-state dispute against the Dutch coal ban

In pursuit of the ambitious long-term goals of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and preferably to 1.5 degrees from pre-industrial times, various European countries have decided to phase out coal. While such policies are necessary to tackle climate change – after all, coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel…

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