Categories
2023 Business responsibility Domestic court Emissions reductions/mitigation Fossil fuel extraction Italy Paris Agreement Private and family life Right to health Right to life Right to property

Greenpeace Italy, ReCommon, et. al. v. ENI, Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance, et. al.

Summary:
Greenpeace Italy, together with ReCommon (an Italian association involved in questioning corporate and State power) and twelve Italian citizens from different regions of the country manifestly affected by climate change impacts, filed a lawsuit against ENI, a major oil & gas multinational company, and the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance, which, also through Cassa Depositi e Prestiti S.p.A. (an important public financial institution), has a relevant influence on the corporation.

The applicants asked the Court to ascertain and declare that the defendants share liability for the moral and material damages they suffered to their health, life and properties due to climate change impacts, and for further endangering these same assets.
The claimants allege ENI contributed to climate change as its activities, either industrial, commercial or for transportation of energy products, caused greenhouse gas emissions far beyond the limits suggested by the scientific community, notwithstanding the temperature goals internationally recognized in the Paris Agreement, which implies emissions reductions both in the public and in the private sphere. The claimants argue that the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance and Cassa Depositi e Prestiti S.p.A. (whose majority shareholder is the same Ministry), as shareholders of the oil&gas corporation, could have influenced its strategy concerning the ecological transition away from fossil fuels, but did not leverage their relevant influence in that direction.

The legal strategy is primarily based on Article 2043 of the Italian Civil Code, dedicated to liability for non-contractual damages and interpreted, according to previous case-law, as a tool for human rights protection. The applicants claimed a violation of their rights to life, health, and respect for private and family life, as enshrined in the Italian Constitution, in the European Convention on Human Rights, in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and that ENI shall respect according to the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines for multinational enterprises.
The claimants drew on attribution science to argue for the existence of a causal link, and recalled the reasoning of the Dutch courts in the Urgenda case, according to which even a quantitatively relatively low level of greenhouse emissions on the global scale contributes to climate change, meaning that there is a sufficient causal link between those emissions and their present and future adverse effects. In addition, the applicants rely subsidiarily on Article 2050 of the Italian Civil Code, dedicated to liability for dangerous activities, that implies a reversed burden of proof: the defendant shall prove that every measure was taken to prevent the damaging event.

Concerning remedies, the claimants did not ask the Court to quantify the damages. Recalling the case against Royal Dutch Shell (Milieudefensie), they asked the Court to order ENI to reduce its greenhouse emissions by 45% in 2030 compared to 2020 and to align to the 1.5°C temperature goal. They also asked the Court to impose a monetary sanction in case the order is not fulfilled. The applicants also asked the Court to order the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance and Cassa Depositi e Prestiti S.p.A. to adopt a policy defining climate goals to foster as relevant shareholder of the corporation.

This is not the first instance of rights-based climate litigation in Italy: you can read about the previously filed lawsuit against the Italian State here in the Database.

Date of filing:
9 May 2023

Jurisdiction:
Civil Court of Rome

Documents:

More information:
More information on Greenpeace Italy and ReCommon dedicated web pages.

Last updated:
15 May 2023

Categories
Adaptation Biodiversity Children and young people Climate activists and human rights defenders Climate-induced displacement Deforestation Emissions reductions/mitigation Evidence Indigenous peoples rights Indigenous peoples' rights Inter-American Human Rights System Loss & damage Paris Agreement Right to a healthy environment Right to health Right to life Right to property Rights of nature Vulnerability

The 2023 Advisory Opinion Request to the IACtHR on the Climate Emergency

Summary:
On 9 January 2023, the governments of Colombia and Chile jointly filed a request for an advisory opinion on the climate emergency and human rights to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The two governments requested clarification of the scope of States’ obligations, both in their individual and collective dimensions, in responding to the climate emergency within the framework of international human rights law, taking into account the different effects that climate change has on people in different regions and on different population groups, nature and human survival.

The governments asked the Inter-American Court to answer a series of questions grouped into six thematic areas, namely:

A. On the scope of States’ obligations to protect and prevent, including regarding their obligations to mitigate, adapt, regulate and monitor, and their response to loss and damage;

B. On States’ obligations to protect the right to life given the existing climate science, and taking into account the right of access to information and transparency of information, including under the Escazú Agreement;

C. On the obligations of States with respect to the rights of children and new generations, given especially the vulnerability of children;

D. On the State’s obligations concerning consultative and judicial procedures, taking into account the limited remaining carbon budget;

E. On the protective and preventative obligations concerning environmental and land rights defenders, as well as women, indigenous peoples and Afro-descendant communities; and

F. On shared and differentiated obligations and responsibilities in terms of the rights of States, the obligation of cooperation and given the impacts on human mobility (migration and forced displacement of people).

Extended summary:
In their request to the IACtHR, the two governments submit that they are already dealing with the consequences of the climate emergency, including the proliferation of droughts, floods, landslides and fires. These, they submit, underscore the need for a response based on the principles of equity, justice, cooperation and sustainability, as well as human rights. The two governments note that climate change is already putting humans and future generations at risk, but that its effects are not being experienced uniformly across the international community. Instead, given their geography, climatic conditions, socioeconomic conditions and infrastructure, they are particularly being felt in the most vulnerable communities, including several countries in the Americas. They emphasize that these effects are not proportionate to these countries’ and communities’ contribution to climate change.

The governments, in their request, emphasize the relevance of the right to a healthy environment, as well as other interrelated substantive and procedural rights (affecting life, human survival and future generations). They review the existing scientific evidence concerning the impacts and progression of climate change from the IPCC, and note the vulnerability of the Andean region. Emphasizing the utility of the human rights framework for understanding these harms, and “to advance and accelerate the collective response to the climate emergency in each State, regionally and globally”, they ask the Court to answer a series of questions “in order to provide guidance towards solutions based on human rights, with an intersectional perspective.” In doing so, they note the need for clear inter-American standards to accelerate the response to the climate emergency, arguing that while the concrete measures taken may vary, human rights obligations should be the framework for accelerating the response in a just, equitable and sustainable way.

The two governments refer to the 2017 Advisory Opinion of the IACtHR, which recognized the right to a healthy environment as an autonomous and individual right, and referred to the negative effects of climate change. However, they argue, there is a need to further clarify the human rights imapcts of climate change, and corresponding obligations. In this regard, they raise the existence also of collective rights for the protection of nature under international human rights and environmental law, and cite the need to protect fundamental biomes like the Amazon and to understand States’ shared but differentiated responsibilities in a way that copes with loss and damage. The two governments invite the Court to set out clear standards against the background of litigation and related developments, citing the Vanuatu advisory opinion request to the ICJ, the pending cases before the European Court of Human Rights, and the UN HRC’s Billy and ors. v. Australia case. An advisory opinion from the Court, they argue, would provide States with guidance for setting out domestic policies and programmes.

The questions asked:

A. On the State’s obligations of prevention and protection

Question A.1: What is the scope of States’ obligation to prevent climate phenomena created by global warming, including extreme events and slow-onset events, in accordance with their inter-American treaty obligations and in light of the Paris Agreement and the scientific consensus that calls to limit the increase in global temperature to 1.5°C?

Question A.2: In particular, what actions should States take to minimize the impact of climate-related damage, in light of their obligations under the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR)? In this regard, what differentiated measures must be taken with respect to vulnerable populations or intersectional considerations?

Question A.2.A.: What must States consider in implementing their obligation to (i) regulate, (ii) monitor and oversee, (iii) order and approve social and environmental impact studies, (iv) establish a contingency plan, and (v) mitigate activities within their jurisdiction that aggravate or may aggravate the climate emergency?

Question A.2.B.: What principles should guide action towards mitigation, adaptation and the response to loss and damage created by the climate emergency in affected communities?

B. On the State’s obligations to protect the right to life given the existing scientific consensus

Taking into account the right to access to information and the obligations concerning the active production and transparency of information derived from Arts. 14, 4.1 and 5.1. of the ACHR, in light of Arts. 5 and 6 of the Escazú Agreement, the governments ask the Court to determine:

Question B.1.: What is the scope of States’ obligations in the face of the climate emergency, in terms of:

  • (i) the environmental information required;
  • (ii) the mitigation and climate adaptation measures to be adopted to address the climate emergency and the impacts of such measures, including specific just transition policies for groups and people particularly vulnerable to global warming;
  • iii) responses to prevent, minimize and address economic and non-economic loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change;
  • iv) the production of information and access to information on greenhouse gas emissions levels, air pollution, deforestation, and short-lived climate pollutants, analysis of sectors or activities that contribute to emissions, and more; and
  • v) establishing impacts on people, such as on human mobility (migration and forced displacement), effects on health and life, non-economic losses, etc.?

Question B.2.: To what extent does access to environmental information constitute a right that must be ensured to guarantee the rights to life, property, health, participation and access to justice, among other rights that are negatively affected by climate change, in accordance with the State’s obligations under the ACHR?

C. On the differentiated obligations of States with respect to the rights of children and new generations

Citing Art. 19 ACHR and Art. 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and recognizing the consensus of the scientific community that identifies children as the group most vulnerable in the long term to the imminent risks to life and well-being expected to result from the climate emergency, the govenments ask the Court to determine:

Question C.1.: What is the nature and scope of a State Party’s obligation to adopt timely and effective measures in the face of the climate emergency to ensure the protection of children’s rights derived from its obligations under Articles 1, 4, 5, 11 and 19 ACHR?

Question C.2: What is the nature and extent of a State Party’s obligation to provide children with meaningful and effective means to freely and fully express their views, including the opportunity to initiate, or otherwise participate in, any judicial or administrative proceedings concerning the prevention of climate change that constitutes a threat to their lives?

D. On the State’s obligations concerning consultative and judicial procedures

In consideration of Arts. 8 and 25 ACHR, and taking into account the scientific finding that there is a limited greenhouse gas budget that can still be emitted before reaching a dangerous and irrevocable level of climate change, and that this budget would be exhausted within a decade, the States ask the Court to clarify:

Question D.1.: What is the nature and extent of the State Parties’ obligation concerning to the provision of effective judicial remedies to provide adequate and timely protection and redress for the impairment of rights due to the climate emergency?

Question D.2.: To what extent should the obligation to consult take into account the climatic consequences of a given activity or projections concerning the emergency?

E. On the protective and preventative obligations concerning environmental and land rights defenders, as well as for women, indigenous peoples and Afro-descendant communities

In accordance with Arts. 1.1 and 2 ACHR and Art. 9 of the Escazú Agreement, the governments as the IACtHR to determine:

Question E.1.: What measures and policies should States adopt in order to facilitate the work of environmental defenders?

Question E.2.: What specific considerations should be taken into account to guarantee women human rights defenders’ right to defend the healthy environment and their land?

Question E.3.: What specific considerations should be taken into account to guarantee the right to defend the healthy environment and land in light of intersectional factors and differentiated impacts, among others, on indigenous peoples, peasant communities and Afro-descendants?

Question E.4.: In the face of the climate emergency, what information should the State produce and publish in order to determine the possibility of investigating various crimes committed against human rights defenders, including reports of threats, kidnappings, homicides, forced displacement, gender violence, discrimination, etc.?

Question E.5.: What due diligence measures should States take into account to ensure that attacks and threats against environmental defenders in the context of the climate emergency do not go unpunished?

F. On shared and differentiated obligations and responsibilities in terms of the rights of States

Bearing in mind that the climate emergency affects the entire world, and that obligations to cooperate and repair arise from the ACHR and other international treaties:

Question F.1.: What considerations and principles should States and international organizations, collectively and regionally, take into account in analyzing shared but differentiated responsibilities in the face of climate change from a human rights and intersectionality perspective?

Question F.2.: How should States act both individually and collectively to guarantee the right to reparation for the damages generated by their actions or omissions in the face of the climate emergency, taking into account considerations of equity, justice and sustainability?

Taking into account that the climate crisis has a greater impact on some regions and populations, among them, the Caribbean, island and coastal countries and territories of the Americas, and their inhabitants:

Question F.3.: How should the obligations of cooperation between States be interpreted?

Question F.4.: What obligations and principles should guide the actions of States in order to ensure the right to life and survival of the most affected regions and populations in different countries and in the region?

Considering that one of the impacts of the climate emergency is to aggravate the factors that lead to human mobility (migration and forced displacement of people):

Question F.5.: What obligations and principles should guide the individual and coordinated actions to be taken by States in the region to address non-voluntary human mobility exacerbated by the climate emergency?

Consultation procedure:

In accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the IACtHR (Art. 73(3)), all interested parties (individuals and organizations) are invited to present a written opinion on the issues covered in the advisory opinion request. The President of the Court has established 18 August 2023 as the deadline for doing so. More information is available here.

Further information:

  • The text of the advisory opinion request is available here (in the official Spanish version as filed with the Court) and it has also been translated to English, French and Portuguese by the Court’s Secretariat.
  • For a comment by Juan Auz and Thalia Viveros-Uehara, see ‘Another Advisory Opinion on the Climate Emergency? The Added Value of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’, EJIL:Talk! Blog, 2 March 2023, available here.
  • For a comment from Maria Antonia Tigre, see ‘A Request for an Advisory Opinion at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights: Initial Reactions’, Climate Law Blog, 17 February 2023, available here.
Categories
Adaptation Biodiversity Children and young people Deforestation Domestic court Emissions reductions/mitigation Human dignity Imminent risk Paris Agreement Peru Private and family life Right to a healthy environment Right to health Right to life Right to water Vulnerability

Álvarez et al. v. Peru

Summary:
This amparo case was filed before the Superior Court of Justice of Lima, Peru, on 16 December 2019. Brought by a group of young Peruvians, it alleges that the government has not taken adequate measures halt deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, a major carbon sink, and to take adequate mitigation and adaptation measures in the face of climate change. They submit that this particularly harms the rights of young people, whose futures are in jeopardy because of climate change.

Before the court, they invoke the constitutional and human right to a healthy environment, drawing in particular on the Peruvian Constitution, the ICESCR, and the Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights (also known as the “Protocol of San Salvador”). They also invoke their right to human dignity (Art. 1 of the Peruvian Constitution) and their right to life (Art. 2.1 of the Peruvian Constitution), along with — among others — the right to health and to water. They also invoke the preventive and precautionary principles and draw on constitutional principles concerning the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of natural resources, the social function of law, the best interests of the child, solidarity and intergenerational equity.

The claimants submit that public policies on environmental protection are insufficient “to mitigate a problem that, according to scientific evidence, is worsening and threatens the very survival of the human species on the planet. This scenario is even more acute for the claimants – minors, born between 2005 and 2011 – whose future is severely compromised as a result of the current climate and ecological crisis. The conditions for their well-being and that of their descendants for decades to come depend, to a large extent, on the actions taken today. Tomorrow will be too late. In Peru – a megadiverse country that is vulnerable to climate change – the problem is particularly pressing. The plaintiffs, therefore, have suffered a violation of their fundamental right to enjoy a healthy environment, as well as threats to their fundamental rights to life, to a “life project” (“proyeto de vida”), to water and to health” (translation from the original Spanish by climaterightsdatabase.com)

Further information:

  • For an interview with one of the applicants in this case, see here.

Suggested citation:

Superior Court of Justice of Lima, Álvarez et al. v. Peru, constitutional complaint submitted on 16 December 2019.

Last updated:

17 March 2023

Categories
Children and young people Domestic court Emissions reductions/mitigation Imminent risk Non-discrimination Paris Agreement Right to a healthy environment Right to life South Korea

Do-Hyun Kim et al. v. South Korea

Summary:

On 13 March 2020, nineteen teenagers from across South Korea initiated proceedings against their government (the National Assembly of Korea and the President of Korea), arguing that insufficient emissions reductions efforts were violating their constitutional rights. Their constitutional complaint is currently pending before the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Korea.

They argued that, by not taking action to prevent the threats posed by climate change, the government had violated the right of younger generations to life and the pursuit of happiness (Article 10 of the Constitution), which they argue also enshrines the right to resist against human extinction, along with the right to live in a healthy and pleasant environment (Article 35(1) of the Constitution). They also contested inter-generational inequalities under the constitutional prohibition of discrimination (Article 11 of the Constitution) and invoked the duty of the State to prevent environmental disasters (Article 34(e) of the Constitution). In doing so, the applicants invoked the fatal risk posed by climate change and the irrevocable damage to be suffered by younger generations. As a major emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, they argued, Korea has an obligation to protect its citizens from the effects of climate change by taking stronger emissions reductions action.

No action has been taken in this case to date. However, on 30 December 2022, the Korean National Human Rights Commission issued an official statement to the President of Korea regarding climate change and human rights. Citing IPCC reports, UN findings, other instances of climate litigation (such as Urgenda and Neubauer) and the existence of different vulnerabilities, it found that “[a]s the climate crisis has far-reaching impacts on multiple human rights, including the rights to life, food, health and housing, the government should regard protecting and promoting the rights of everyone in the midst of climate crisis as its fundamental obligation and reform related laws and systems to address the climate crisis from a human rights perspective.”

Status of the case:

Pending

More information on the case:

For a recent press report, see here.

The submissions in the case, including an unofficial English translation of the complaint prepared by the applicants’ counsel, are available via ClimateCaseChart.

Suggested citation:

Constitutional Court of Korea, Do-Hyun KIM and 18 others v. South Korea, pending case filed on 13 March 2020.

Categories
Access to a remedy Emissions reductions/mitigation European Convention on Human Rights European Court of Human Rights Imminent risk Non-discrimination Private and family life Right to life Standing/admissibility The United Kingdom Victim status

Plan B. Earth and Others v. the United Kingdom

Summary:

On 11 July 2022, an application against the United Kingdom was filed before the European Court of Human Rights by the NGO Plan B. Earth and four individual applicants. The applicants argued that the United Kingdom’s government violated their rights under Articles 2, 8 and 14 of the ECHR by failing to take practical and effective measures to tackle the threat of anthropogenic climate change. They also submitted that they had suffered violations of their procedural rights under Articles 6 and 13 ECHR because they had been denied a full hearing of their case.

Citing the UK Government’s acknowledgment of the fact that climate change is a serious threat to humanity, the applicant NGO submitted that its membership included those “who are exposed to disproportionate and discriminatory impacts and risks, whether by virtue of age, gender, mental health or membership of racially marginalised communities, or because their family life is inextricably linked to communities on the frontline of the crisis.” The applicants also cited the State’s positive obligation to safeguard the right to life, and argued that the Paris Agreement, and its temperature goal of 1,5 degrees Celsius, are relevant in determining the scope of these positive obligations. They argued that practical and effective measures are required to ensure climate mitigation, adaptation, finance flows and loss and damage, and that the respondent State has failed in all four regards.

Victim status:

As concerns the applicants’ victim status, they argued that they were “victims” of the alleged Convention violations. They referred to domestic rules that increase the cost risk by £5,000 for each additional claimant in environmental cases; this rule serves to deter class actions, and therefore prevents applicants from sharing the cost and other risks involved in litigation. They noted that the first applicants’ members include individuals exposed to disproportionate and discriminatory impacts and risks as concerns their age, gender, membership of racially marginalised communities, family life inextricably linked with communities in the Global South, and mental health, and those who are at the intersection of such increased risks. They also noted that, given the high risk of overwhelming and irreversible interference with the applicants’ rights, denying them victim status would render their Convention rights theoretical and illusory.

Status of case:

The ECtHR declared the application inadmissible, holding that the applicants were not sufficiently affected by the alleged breach of the Convention or its Protocols to claim to be victims of a violation within the meaning of Art. 34 of the Convention. This decision was taken by a Committee judicial formation, as the result of a written procedure without a public decision.

According to Plan B Earth’s press release following the decision, the panel was composed of three judges, among which the UK Judge Tim Eicke.

Publication of decision:

Pending

Date of decision:

13 December 2022 (according to the ECtHR’s press release).

More information:

  • For the full text of the application form, click here.
  • For a press release from Plan B Earth on the filing, click here.
  • For the full claim before the High Court of Justice, click here.
  • For the Court of Appeals’ judgment, click here.

Suggested citation:
European Court of Human Rights, Plan B. Earth and Others v. the United Kingdom, Appl. no. 35057/22, Decision of 13 December 2022.

Last updated:
15 March 2023.


Categories
Deforestation Emissions reductions/mitigation European Convention on Human Rights European Court of Human Rights Farming Imminent risk Paris Agreement Private and family life Prohibition of torture Right to life The United Kingdom

Humane Being v. the United Kingdom

Summary:
On 26 July 2022, the NGO Humane Being submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that the United Kingdom’s government hat violated the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to protect against the life-threatening risks posted by factory farms. The application invokes Articles 2, 3 and 8 ECHR. Factory farming, the applicants argue, is responsible for the risk of millions of human deaths due to the climate crisis, future pandemics and antibiotic resistance. The case also challenges the effects of agricultural methane emissions and deforestation, and argues that factory farming at current levels is not compatible with the Government’s emissions reduction commitments.

Status of case:
The ECtHR declared the application inadmissible in a single judge judicial formation in a non-public written procedure. The (anonymous) judge decided that the applicant was not sufficiently affected by the alleged breach of the Convention or its Protocols to claim to be a victim of a violation within the meaning of Article 34 ECHR. Single judge decisions are not published to the Court’s HUDOC database.

Publication of decision:
Pending

Date of decision:
1 December 2022 (according to the ECtHR’s press release).

More information:
For the NGO’s press release on the application, click here.

Suggested citation:
European Court of Human Rights, Humane Being v. the United Kingdom, no. 36959/22, Decision (single judge) of 1 December 2022.

Last updated:
16 March 2023.

Categories
2022 Children and young people Deciding Body Emissions reductions/mitigation European Convention on Human Rights European Court of Human Rights Germany Keywords Paris Agreement Private and family life Right to life Rights at stake State concerned Uncategorized Year

Engels and Others v. Germany

Summary:

Following the Neubauer v. Germany case, nine teenagers and young adults brought an application to the European Court of Human Rights complaining that the new objectives of the German Climate Protection Act, as amended after the judgement of the the German Federal Constitutional Court and entered into force on 31 August 2021, are insufficient to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the level necessary for meeting the Paris Agreement temperature goals (well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels) and that this would violate Articles 2 (right to life) and 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Status of case:

Adjourned until the Grand Chamber has ruled in the climate change cases pending before it (see the ECtHR’s press release here).

Suggested case citation:

European Court of Human Rights, Engels v. Germany (no. 46906/22), filed in September 2022 (not yet communicated).

More information:

Part of the application made to the Court has been made public by the NGO Deutsche Umwelthilfe, which is supporting the applicants, here (in German). This document contains the supplementary argumentation appended to the standardized application form.

Last updated:

15 March 2023.

Categories
2020 Canada Domestic court Emissions reductions/mitigation Indigenous peoples rights Indigenous peoples' rights Non-discrimination Right to life Separation of powers

Lho’imggin et al. v. Canada

Summary:
This case was brought by two houses of the Wet’suwet’en indigenous group against Canada on 10 February 2020. The plaintiffs argue that the Canadian government has violated their constitutional and human rights by failing to meet its international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They argue that the effects of warming are already being felt on their territories, including in the form of negative health effects. They also argue that the historical treatment and ongoing discrimination against indigenous peoples in Canada exacerbate the trauma of climate change. They invoke, among other things, their rights to life, liberty and security of person, and the right to equality.

The Federal Court granted a motion to strike out the claim on 16 November 2020, finding that the case was not justiciable, lacked a reasonable cause of action, and did not seek legally available remedies. The plaintiffs appealed to the Federal Court of Appeal on 10 December 2020; the appeal was still pending in August 2022.

Relief sought:
The applicants seek several different forms of relief. These include declaratory relief concerning Canada’s obligations to reduce its emissions and respect the plaintiffs’ rights, including the rights of future member of the Wet’suwet’en indigenous group. The plaintiffs also seek an order requiring the government to amend its environmental assessment statutes that apply to extant high GHG emitting projects, and an order requiring a complete, independent and timely annual account of Canada’s cumulative greenhouse gas emissions in a format that allows a comparison to be made with Canada’s fair carbon budget.

Findings of the Federal Court:
Among other things, the Federal Court found that “this matter is not justiciable as it is the realm of the other two branches of government. This broad topic is beyond the reach of judicial interference. [It did] not find that there is a sufficient legal component to anchor the analysis as this action is a political one that may touch on moral/strategic/ideological/historical or policy-based issues and determinations within the realm of the remaining branches of government.” It also found, concerning this case, that “not only is there not sufficient legality, but the remedies sought are not appropriate remedies, but rather solutions that are appropriate to be executed by the other branches of government.”

Further reading:
The full text of the judgment of the Federal Court is available via climatecasechart.

Suggested citation:
Federal Court of Ottowa, Lho’imggin et al. v. Her Majesty the Queen, Order of 16 November 2020, 2020 FC 1059.

Categories
2021 Children and young people Domestic court Right to a healthy environment Right to life Right to property Separation of powers United States of America

Reynolds and Others v. Florida

Summary:
In this case, eight young people asserted that the “deliberate indifference” of the US state of Florida, its Governor Ron DeSantis, and other state agencies had violated their “fundamental rights of life, liberty and property, and the pursuit of happiness, which includes a stable climate system”. On 9 June 2020, the Circuit Court for Leon County dismissed their case, finding that it could not grant the relief requested in light of the separation of powers clause contained in the state’s constitution. The claims in question were considered nonjusticiable because they “are inherently political questions that must be resolved by the political branches of government.”. On appeal, on 18 May 2021, the First District Court of Appeal rejected the applicants’ appeal, affirming the lower court’s finding that the lawsuit raised nonjusticiable political questions.

Further information:
Both the Circuit Court’s judgment and the Court of Appeals’ affirmation of the first-instance judgment can be found at www.climatecasechart.com.

Categories
2021 Canada Children and young people Class action Domestic court Non-discrimination Right to a healthy environment Right to life

ENVironnement JEUnesse v. Canada

Summary:
In 2018, the environmental NGO ENvironnement JEUnesse applied for leave to bring a class action case against the Canadian government on behalf of citizens of Québec aged 35 and under. The NGO sought a declaration from that the Canadian government had violated its obligation to protect these citizens’ fundamental rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Québec Charter of Rights and Freedoms by setting insufficent greenhouse gas reduction targets and by failing to create an adequate plan to reach these targets. Specifically, they invoked their rights to life, to a healthy environment, and to equality. On 11 July 2019, the Superior Court of Quebec dismissed the motion to authorize the institution of a class action, finding that the proposed class, with its 35-year age limit, had been created arbitrarily. An appeal by ENVironnement JEUnesse was denied on 13 December 2021.

Remedies sought:
As well as a declaratory judgment, the NGO sought punitive damages and an order to cease interference with the plaintiffs’ rights.

Judgment:
In their judgment of 13 December 2021, the three judges of the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal and denied the certification of the proposed class. They referred to the role of the legislature in making the complex social and economic choices required here. They also considered that the remedies sought by the applicants were not specific enough to be implemented by a court. Lastly, the judges upeld the previous instance’s finding concerning the arbitary constitution of the class, with its 35-year age limit.

Further procedural steps:
The applicants announced that they would launch an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Further reading:
The judgment of the Court of Appeal (in French) can be found below.

The declaration of appeal can be found here.