International lawyers’ group calls for international court on the environment – ‘Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our times, and it is the one that we are most inadequately prepared for’Posted by Jim at Thursday, September 25, 2014
By Raveena Aulakh
22 September 2014
(The Star) – An increasing number of extreme weather events are wreaking havoc on the world’s most vulnerable people and bulldozing economies, but climate laws are woefully inadequate to deal with human rights, says a groundbreaking new report by an influential lawyers’ group.
The group also calls for the creation of an international court on the environment that would deal with climate change disputes, much like the United Nation’s International Court of Justice.
The 240-page report, Climate Change Justice and Human Rights Task Force report - Achieving Justice and Human Rights in an Era of Climate Disruption [pdf], has been put together by the International Bar Association, which comprises 200 bar associations worldwide and has more than 55,000 members. It is the first time that a legal organization of this size has studied climate justice and the role of human rights law in addressing climate challenge.
The report was released Monday.
“Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our times,” said David Estrin, co-chair of the panel that put the report together. “And it is the one that we are most inadequately prepared for.”
Estrin works for Gowlings law firm in Toronto and was one of the first Canadian lawyers to specialize in environmental law more than four decades ago. […]
The IBA, said Estrin, completely agrees with the scientific consensus on climate change. When working on the report, the panel studied assessments by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The report says that even though climate change affects everyone, it impacts those people the most who have contributed to it the least; they also lack the resources to respond.
It assesses the challenges facing countries poorly suited to provide legal remedies to those most affected, and recommends reforms that help protect and preserve environmental and human rights.
One key recommendation is “recognition for a new universal human right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.”
(More than 90 countries have included the “right to live in a healthy environment” in their constitutions; the U.S., Canada, Australia and Britain are not among them.)
Climate change is often framed as an issue of science, economics, policy and politics, “but more than anything else, it is an issue of ethics and justice,” said Michael E. Mann, a well-known climatologist and director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University.
“This report stresses the key point that those who are most likely to feel the worst impacts of climate change had the least role in creating the problem,” he said.
What particularly struck Mann about the IBA report was the recommendation that every human has the right to a safe, healthy and sustainable environment. That provides a framework for bringing to justice “those who infringe on that right, particularly those fossil fuel interests who continue to deny the existence or danger of climate change as they continue to pollute,” he said. [more]