CIEL Welcomes Historic Firsts for Climate Justice at the UN General Assembly and European Court of Human Rights March 29, 2023 NEW YORK (US) / STRASBOURG (FR) – Today, two critical developments at international institutions are advancing efforts to clarify and enforce states’ human rights obligations in the face of climate change. One is the first-ever public hearings at the European Court of Human Rights on climate cases addressing the duty of states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including a case brought by the Swiss Senior Women for Climate Protection against Switzerland. The other is the historic adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of a resolution calling upon the world’s highest court, the International Court of Justice, to issue an opinion on state legal responsibilities to protect the climate system for present and future generations and the consequences of failing to do so. The unanimous resolution, which enjoyed widespread support from over 120 co-sponsoring countries, was spearheaded through an initiative by the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu and a youth-driven campaign. These advances come just ten days after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the Sixth Synthesis Report, which unequivocally shows that world leaders have — so far — utterly failed to take sufficient action to protect people and the planet from the accelerating climate crisis. Despite decades of international climate negotiations and undeniable scientific evidence, States continue to prop up and lock-in dependence on fossil fuels — the main driver of the climate crisis. Impacted communities across the globe are finding themselves with few alternatives but to resort to courts in their pursuit of clear rules to guide State climate action and hold States accountable for their failures.
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