Photo above courtesy of Greenpeace Netherlands; taken at the #Protestival held on 14-15 December 2019 at Schiphol International Airport
Article originally published here by Isabella Kaminski in The Guardian, 20 December 2019 at 8.08 EST
The Supreme Court of The Netherlands has upheld a ruling ordering the country’s government to do much more to cut carbon emissions, after a six-year fight for climate justice.
The court ruled that the Dutch government had explicit duties to protect its citizens’ human rights in the face of climate change and must reduce emissions by at least 25% compared with 1990 levels by the end of 2020.
The non-profit Urgenda Foundation, which brought the case, welcomed the “groundbreaking” judgment. The original judgment in 2015 was seen as a landmark in the then nascent field of climate litigation, and inspired similar cases across the world, from Pakistan to New Zealand.
David Boyd, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, said it was:
“the most important climate change court decision in the world so far, confirming that human rights are jeopardised by the climate emergency and that wealthy nations are legally obligated to achieve rapid and substantial emission reductions.”
The Dutch government had previously said it would comply with the substance of the ruling, but it repeatedly appealed over the legal basis for the decision. The latest national statistics show the Netherlands is very unlikely to meet the 2020 emissions target.
The Netherlands passed its first piece of national climate legislation in 2018, it has published a more ambitious carbon plan for 2030, and it is closing its first coal plant next year.
According to the Supreme Court, individual nations have direct obligations under Articles 2 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, covering the right to life and the right to private and family life.
Dennis van Berkel, a member of the legal counsel for Urgenda, said:
“The enormous importance of this case is not just that the Netherlands is obliged to act but that these principles are universal. No court outside the Netherlands is bound by this decision but the influence that this court has and the inspiration that it will give to others are really big.”
Denis van Berkel, litigation attorney for Urgenda
Van Berkel said that if the government did not comply with the ruling, Urgenda could start separate legal proceedings against it.
The Dutch climate minister, Eric Wiebes, said the government had “taken note” of decision and would issue a full response in January. He said the Netherlands had announced an “ambitious” set of measures this year to implement the judgment, although campaigners think it could go much further.
As well as inspiring cases against other national governments, Urgenda’s success has encouraged campaigners to take up legal arms against corporations. In April a group of social and environmental justice groups led by Friends of the Earth Netherlands began the process of suing the oil firm Shell, arguing that its business model threatens international climate goals and endangers human rights.
In a formal reply in November, Shell has denied it was liable. A month earlier the company’s CEO said it had “no choice” but to invest in oil and claimed it was “entirely legitimate” to do so.
“The Supreme Court’s decision has set an important precedent for the Shell case because they used similar legal arguments. It is a huge decision for all current climate litigation cases.”
Nine de Pater, a climate and energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Netherlands
Link to Friends of the Earth Netherlands, to join their petition against Shell Oil Company.
Link to the English version of Urgenda to learn more about their legal initiative.
Economic climate in the EU is worsening and investment by EU firms is likely to slow down in 2020
EU climate mitigation investment stagnating and behind US and China
Europe needs to accelerate adoption of digital technologies to stay competitive
European firms are becoming increasingly pessimistic about the economic outlook according to the new EIB Investment Report 2019/2020. The report also finds that investment in climate change mitigation is lower than that of major economies like the US and China. Infrastructure investment is stuck at 1.6% of EU GDP, the lowest in 15 years and Europe is failing to reap the benefits of digital transformation.
Original article entitled EIB Investment Report 2019: Uncertainty Weighing on EU Firm Investment; Published by EIB here on 26 November 2019
The report, which reflects the results of the annual EIB Investment Survey (EIBIS) of 12,500 European businesses, recommends that the EU take advantage of historically low interest rates, increase public investment, catalyse private investment and promote efficient financial intermediation to tackle the slowdown.
“Europe cannot afford to wait out another cyclical downturn. After a lost decade of weak investment, we need to tackle the slowdown now if we are to respond to the historic challenges we are facing. The EIB, as the EU’s financial arm and climate bank, has played a crucial role in kick-starting investment in Europe after the financial crisis and we now stand ready to further support investment for a more sustainable and competitive European economy.”
Commenting on the report’s findings, EIB Vice-President Andrew McDowell
The report was presented at the EIB’s Annual Economic Conference, which is jointly organised with the OECD, Columbia University and SUERF, in Luxembourg. The conference brought together high-level speakers such Sir Nicholas Stern and Mariana Mazzucato and chief economists of the European Central Bank, European Stability Mechanism, OECD, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Trade Organisation.
“We have to accelerate investment to fully exploit the benefits of the digital revolution, realise our climate goals and rebuild Europe’s social cohesion. There is a long list of investments that require public intervention or a private sector that finds the right conditions to overcome uncertainty: firms’ digitalisation, innovation and business dynamism as well as smart delivery of infrastructure and public services, green innovation and energy efficiency, and e-government, e-learning and e-training.”
According to Deborah Revoltella, Director of the EIB’s Economic Department, while presenting the report. [ . . . ]
EU climate investment not on track
The EIB Investment Report shows that, although substantial progress has been made, climate action investment in the EU is not yet on track. To achieve a net zero-carbon economy by 2050, the EU must raise total investment in its energy system and related infrastructure from 2% to 3% of GDP on average.
The European Union invested EUR 158 billion in climate change mitigation in 2018. At 1.2% of GDP, this is now marginally less than the United States (1.3%) and little over a third of China’s performance (3.3% of GDP).
While the United States leads in climate-related R&D spending, China has recently quadrupled its spending, overtaking the EU.
Europe’s weak performance in climate-related R&D is a threat to its competitiveness, given the importance that still-immature technologies will have in the transition.
To continue reading the original article, link here.
Another Perspective from ClientEarth foundation to the EIB 2019/2020 Report
Response to this report per the official News release from ClientEarth.org of 13 November 2019, entitled Major Step Forward: European Investment Bank to Stop Funding Fossil Fuel Projects, original publication here
ClientEarth welcomes the European Investment Bank’s landmark lending policy and the Board’s decision to exclude gas finance from it.
“The EIB has set the standard for banks worldwide with this move – and clearly signalled that oil, gas and coal lending is inconsistent with the Paris Agreement goals. This is a major step in the flight of capital from fossil fuels. While we are disappointed to have seen such strong initial pushback from countries like Germany, which claims high standards on climate, the passing of this policy shows a change of gear for clean investment.”
ClientEarth lawyer Peter Barnett
Although the policy will kick in at the end of 2021, a year later than previously proposed, ClientEarth lawyers have warned that any decision to fund new gas or other fossil fuel projects before then would not be in line with the Paris Agreement and will risk legal challenge.
For further reading the original article by ClientEarth.org: link here.
Original article published here 25 September 2019; author Tessa Khan: Ms. Khan is an international human rights lawyer working on climate litigation and co-director of the Climate Litigation Network.
There couldn’t be a greater contrast between the roaring climate strikes all over the world ahead of the U.N. Climate Summit last week and the austere discipline of a courtroom. But these days the same demand is ringing out in streets and in courts: those responsible for the climate crisis must be held accountable.
At key moments in our history, notably in fights for racial and gender equality, courts have helped to accelerate social change. Litigation that is driven by those most affected has personalized abstract injustices, put facts on the public record, and exposed misinformation and political spin. It has also given the imprimatur of a formal hearing to the righteous demands of social movements. For the global movement for climate justice, these cases also help to drive a clear narrative of responsibility: as much as we have been made to grapple with our individual guilt, the truth is that governments and the fossil fuel industry bear the real responsibility for this crisis. Moreover, they know—and have known for decades—what they need to do to get us out of it.
The power of litigation to throw a wrench into the dangerous business-as-usual machinery of governments was first made clear in 2015. Less than two years after environmental group, the Urgenda Foundation and 886 Dutch citizens filed a lawsuit against the government of the Netherlands for its inaction on climate change, a Dutch District Court issued a groundbreaking decision. It found that the government’s failure to take reasonable steps to avoid dangerous levels of climate change was unlawful and ordered it to significantly reduce the Netherlands’ emissions by 2020.
Although the Dutch government appealed the decision, it agreed to implement the court’s order in response to the intense public spotlight that the lawsuit trained on its climate policy. Since 2015, the Dutch parliament has taken a range of measures to reduce emissions, including closing at least one coal-fired power plant, and has enacted some of the most ambitious climate policies in Europe. In 2018, a Court of Appeal emphatically upheld the original decision, citing the human rights obligations of the government. A final appeal by the government will be decided by the Dutch Supreme Court at the end of the year. At this point, the transformative political impact of the litigation is beyond dispute.
Urgenda’s case proved that governments cannot escape legal responsibility for the decades of promises that they have made to address climate change. Those promises date back to at least 1992, when the first international treaty on climate change committed governments to ‘stabilizing’ the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, with rich countries taking the lead. In the 37 years since, we have moved at a terrifying pace in the opposite direction. The concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is higher now than it has been for millions of years and climate change has destabilized and devastated communities all over the world, punishing those who have contributed the least to our planet over-heating.
At the same time, the fossil fuel industry has continued to extract and sell products that its own scientists warned decades ago will have catastrophic consequences for humanity. A recent study confirmed that 71% of all greenhouse gas emissions since 1988 can be traced to just 100 fossil fuel producers. It should therefore come as no surprise that people around the world, from typhoon-devastated communities in the Philippines, to a Peruvian farmer watching local glaciers disappear, to coastal cities in the US at risk of sea level rise, are taking oil and gas companies to court as well.
Published on the Climate Justice Blog, original article 18 September 2019, link here, re-posted with permission
By Dr Keely Boom
The Global Climate Strike is a wake up call to the world to stop the climate crisis. Students around the world are fighting for climate justice, with three clear demands: (1) transition to 100% renewable energy; (2) keep fossil fuels in the ground; and (3) help victims of climate change.
These young people are now leading the greatest social justice movement that the world has ever seen. This is a critical point in time where we have the opportunity to address climate change. But if we fail, the consequences will be devastating.
So, if you are a lawyer who wants to support the Global Climate Strike, what can you do?
1: READ THE SCIENCE
Teen activist Greta Thunberg has described climate change as an ‘existential threat’ and called upon leaders to ‘listen to the scientists’. The starting point is to read the latest reports from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). The IPCC stated in 2014 that the world is on the path to ‘severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts’ of human-caused climate change.
2: JOIN THE GLOBAL CLIMATE STRIKE
The students who are planning to march at the upcoming Global Climate Strike have urged adults to join them. The climate emergency threatens all of us. If we want to fight for climate justice, we can show our support by marching in the streets alongside the students.
3: DECLARE A CLIMATE EMERGENCY
If you hold a university position, you can ask your university to declare a climate emergency – just as Newcastle Law School has done. Your law firm could declare a climate emergency. You could join efforts to ask governments and other bodies like the Law Council of Australia to declare a climate emergency. At a personal level, you can commit to take emergency action through using your unique legal skills and experience to fight climate change.
4: BECOME A LEGAL OBSERVER
As a lawyer, or even a law student, you could choose to attend the Global Climate Strike as a Legal Observer. As a Legal Observer, you would not be participating in the strike, but instead observing any police interaction with the protestors. In some places there are already Legal Observer groups that you could join. Or you might want to start your own group to provide independent observation in your local area and train other lawyers in how to be a Legal Observer.
5: DEFEND CLIMATE ACTIVISTS IN COURT
Climate activists who engage in civil disobedience may be charged with offences. Young students may have little understanding of the legal system or their rights. Activists are unlikely to have resources to obtain private representation. As a lawyer you could provide legal advice and representation to activists engaged in the Global Climate Strike who face criminal law proceedings. There may also be activists who require legal advice around their rights at their workplace if they do not have the permission of their employers to do so.
6: BRING INNOVATIVE CLIMATE LITIGATION
As governments fail to meet the challenge of the climate crisis, climate litigation has spread around the globe. Young people in the US have brought lawsuits against governments over inaction. A farmer from Peru is suing a German utility company. The Philippines Human Rights Commission is investigating the world’s Big Oil, Coal and Gas producers for allegedly causing human rights violations. Climate litigation is a powerful tool in the fight for climate justice. You may be able to provide advice and represent communities and others seeking climate justice.
7: SUPPORT LEGAL REFORM
It is clear that our current legal system is failing to adequately address the climate crisis. We must reform our law to enable the emergency action that is required, while also safeguarding human rights and civil liberties. Lawyers have an important role in the urgent reform of legal systems around the world.
Take the opportunity this Global Climate Strike day to utilise your unique legal skills, experience and networks to address the climate crisis.
We need everyone, including lawyers, to join the movement and ensure a safe climate for our children and all future generations.
Last week, to be precise, 18 April 2019, saw the release of David Attenborough’s program, entitled ‘Climate Change – The Facts’. It screened prime-time on the BBC channel and concerned the state of our Earth. Additionally, this documentary features the work of the ex-NASA scientist, Dr. James Hansen.
On 19 April 2019, Dr. Hansen sent to Tim Crosland of Plan B, a British nonprofit, a letter addressed to “the General Public of the United Kingdom Including, Especially, British Young People” for distribution and publication to and by all people.
Because we at Plan B are not quite sure how to deliver it to the general public, we would like to start by sharing it with you and to ask you, if you can, to send it on to 5 other people, and ask them to do the same. Here is the link to the letter to share.
The letter itself is published in full below by The Crowd Versus team.
Thank you for your help.
Tim Crosland Director, PlanB Plan B links mobilisation and litigation to hold power to account for #ClimateBreakdown
Web: planb.earth Twitter: @PlanB_earthFacebook: @ThereIsAPlanBPlan B is a Charitable Incorporated OrganisationRegistered Charity Number 1167953
Open Letter to the General Public of the United Kingdom, including and especially, British Young People
Author: Dr. James E. Hansen, Director
Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions Earth Institute, Columbia University 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 401-O New York, NY 10115
To the General Public of the United Kingdom Including, Especially, British Young People (in care of Plan B Earth, 62 Sutherland Square, London SE17 3EL, UK)
I write, too, in recognition that citizens throughout the U.K., led increasingly by the young – those who stand to lose most – now are rising to demand that national leaders develop and adhere to a viable path away from calamitous global warming, including all the disruption to civilization and nature that is, of necessity, at issue.
For over four decades I have sought, in several ways, to call attention to the enveloping crisis, and to suggest straightforward solutions. Those ways range from scientific research to public writing and speaking, from testimony before Congress and in front of numerous courts of law, and to public protest including, at times, highly respectful acts of non-violent civil disobedience – on occasion leading even to my arrest.
It is not for me to determine what is the best course of action for any one of you. I point out here only that every major personal choice of necessity must, or at least should, be preceded by a personal assessment of available resources, opportunities, tradeoffs, and risk.
In particular I urge every young person to consider the full range of likely consequences before undertaking any major act of civil protest. And if you elect to proceed, I urge you to carry yourself always with dignity – that by your example you should serve as a light in this dark time.
That said, I wish also to counsel every parent, and every grandparent. I urge you in particular to take a stand, so as to not let the full burden of responsibility befall our children. Arm yourself with information of the highest quality, think for yourself, and then exercise your full intellectual and moral capacity to help your nation and our planet survive.
I have no doubt that the era of fossil fuels is drawing to a close. But questions remain as to the speed of the coming transition and, in direct consequence of that speed, the nature of what will be left in its wake. I cannot answer, in particular, whether our civilization will survive in any recognizable form the assault on nature and the human dislocation attending loss of our planet’s great coastal cities that we of necessity will confront with continued unarrested climate change. Towards that end, then, I offer the following specific points, indicating source material that is readily available for readers wishing to pursue a deeper understanding:
1. The international scientific consensus acknowledges that global climate change from persistent high fossil fuel emissions is now well into the danger zone. (Footnote 1)
Content Footnote 1: See, e.g., IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), 2014: Synthesis Report, Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, R.K. Pachauri and L.A. Meyer (eds.)]. See also IPCC, 2018: Summary for Policymakers. In: Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, et al. (eds.)]. World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, at https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/chapter/summary-for-policy-makers/.https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/AR5_SYR_FINAL_SPM.pdf.
Direct corollaries of that observation, in my view, include most importantly that CO2emissions from all major sources must be reduced with all deliberate speed, and also that excess atmospheric CO2 must be drawn-down to the extent feasible so as restore a relatively stable climate system. (Footnote 2)
Content Footnote 2: The harsh reality, however, is that there are significant physical and practical limits to the employment and financing of so-called negative emissions options (including, afforestation, agricultural and soil improvements, and technological air capture of CO2, so that while drawdown of atmospheric CO2 may play a useful role, it most assuredly cannot fully compensate for continued inadequate GHG emissions mitigation. See, e.g., Nature, Why current negative-emissions strategies remain ‘magical thinking’ (February 2018) at https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-02184-x.
2. Our collective failure to timely secure those corollaries may soon press the climate system past tipping points from which there may be no reasonable prospect of return. Absent strong, binding, transparent, sustainable and replicable incentives and rules that ensure such phasedown and drawdown, every expansion of infrastructure geared to the production or utilization of additional fossil fuel renders our present climate crisis even less tractable. Major new fossil fuel commitments function also to transform our inadequate-to-date GHG reduction aspirations — including those that obtain now in the UK — into a mere mirage.
3. I incorporate by reference into this statement three peer-reviewed studies of which I am the principal co-author. They are Assessing ‘‘Dangerous Climate Change’’: Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature. PLOS ONE (2013); Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2°C global warming could be dangerous, Atmos. Chem. Phys. (2016); and Exhibit 4,Young people’s burden: requirement of negative CO2 emissions, Earth Syst. Dynam. (2017). These studies – all freely available on the internet (Footnote 3) – support and elaborate on my opinions here.
4. Atmospheric CO2 has now reached 409 ppm, (Footnote 4) over 40 percent more than pre- industrial levels, and the resulting planetary energy imbalance has raised the global surface temperature > 1oC above the preindustrial period. Additional warming is certain in the short-term, even if fossil fuel emissions decline, but the period of continued warming will depend on additional fossil fuel exploitation.
Content Footnote 4: Based on Mauna Loa CO2 annual mean data reported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. See https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/data.html.
5. Fossil fuel emissions are responsible for most of the increase in atmospheric CO2, and increasing CO2, in turn, is the main cause of Earth’s energy imbalance and planetary warming. Accordingly, human decision-making and action are now in control of our planet’s thermostat.
6. The U.K. government has long permitted, subsidized, allowed, and otherwise encouraged fossil fuel exploitation, processing, transport, and consumption – with little or no control on ensuing emissions of CO2 and other GHG emissions.
7. My own government, major components of which are now in thrall to climate denialism and associated pseudo-scientific canards, is doubling down on that pattern and acting to increase fossil fuel exploitation and associated emissions.
8. But is also true that fossil fuel projects and associated emissions were at a grossly unsustainable level during previous U.S. Administrations – even those that recognized the reality of global warming. This means that recognizing the truth of the matter is but step one. In my view, it is critically important – in part to set a good example for the time when Washington D.C. will recognize reality — that traditionally-allied nations do more than talk a good game. Your government should take action to rapidly move Britain off its present dependency on fossil fuels and towards increasing, then increasingly complete, utilization of non- carbon sources of energy.
9. In Assessing “Dangerous Climate Change,” my co-authors and I described the practical impacts of continued global warming. If ice sheets are allowed to become unstable, shorelines will be in perpetual retreat for centuries, a consequence of the slow response time of ocean temperature and ice sheet dynamics. Economic and social implications will be devastating. Because more than half of the largest cities in the world are located on coastlines and the population of coastal regions continues to grow rapidly, the number of refugees likely would eclipse anything experienced in history, with associated impacts on human health and the environment.
10. Rapid shifting of climate zones, already well underway, will be a major contributor to species extinction if global warming continues. Coral reefs, the “rainforests of the ocean,” harboring millions of species, are threatened by the combination of a warming ocean, ocean acidification, rising sea level, and other human-caused stresses. The subtropics in summer, and the tropics in all seasons, will become dangerously hot. Species across the globe will face habitat loss and increased disease, starvation and drought. The patent risk to emblematic species increasingly is widely reported. (Footnote 5)
Content Footnote 5: See, e.g., David Dobbs, Climate Change Enters Its Blood-Sucking, The Atlantic (Feb. 19, 2019) at https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/02/ticks-can-take-down-800-pound- moose/583189/?fbclid=IwAR2BLVnOrUplN20TMO_ Z7ALUYSFNPXCNW9-3kSPZoziBQ59RZleGOuMJVzY .
11. In Assessing ‘Dangerous Climate Change,” we urged rapid emissions reductions (annual exponential reduction of 6% commencing in 2013) with drawdown of excess atmospheric CO2 of approximately 100 GtC (the maximum thought achievable through improvements in forestry and agriculture) leading to a reduction in atmospheric CO2 to < 350 ppm by the year 2100.
12. The actions described (rapid phase down of CO2 emissions and increased carbon storage in the soil and biosphere) were deemed minimally necessary to restore Earth’s energy balance, preserve the planet’s climate system, and avert irretrievable damage to human and natural systems – including agriculture, ocean fisheries, and fresh water supply – on which human civilization depends. However, if rapid emissions reductions are delayed until 2030, then the global temperature will remain more than 1°C higher than preindustrial levels for about 400 years. Were the emissions cessation only to commence after 40 years, then the atmosphere would not return to 350 ppm CO2 for nearly 1,000 years. Projects that solidify our dependence on fossil fuels make it ever more likely that emission cessation goals will not be met.
13. Antarctic ice sheet mass loss is the potential source of large sea level rise. In ourIce Melt paper, we presented evidence, from modern observations, modeling, and paleoclimate analyses that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is slowing as a result of freshening of the ocean mixed layer in the North Atlantic. Resulting reduced northward heat transport in the ocean will tend to warm the Southern Ocean, increasing the threat of Antarctic ice mass loss. We concluded that continued high fossil fuel emissions this century would produce non-linearly growing sea level rise reaching multi-meter levels within a time scale of 50-150 years.
14. The climate system is now out of equilibrium. In such a system, in which the ocean and ice sheets have great inertia but are beginning to change, the existence of amplifying feedbacks presents a situation of great concern. There is a real, imminent danger that we will hand young people and future generations a climate system that is practically out of their control.
15. While Assessing “Dangerous Climate Change” concluded that the combination of rapid emissions reduction and storage of carbon in the soil and biosphere via reforestation and improved forestry and agricultural practices could keep global temperature close to the Holocene range, continued high emissions and continued global warming are altering that picture.
16. In Young People’s Burden, we showed that the rapid warming of the past four decades has raised global temperature to a level matching best estimates for the level of warmth in the Eemian period. The Eemian period, the most recent interglacial period prior to the Holocene, lasted from about 130,000 to 116,000 years before present. Global temperature in the Eemian, at about +1°C relative to 1880-1920, was moderately warmer than the Holocene and sea level reached heights as great as 6-9 meters (20-30 feet) above present. Thus, this analysis provides some insight into what may occur along our coastlines as global temperatures increase.
17. During the past several hundred years, cities were built along coastlines at or just above sea level with enormous investment. This has been possible because of stable sea levels. Similarly, agricultural regions and other settlements relate to relatively stable Holocene climate patterns. The exploitation of fossil fuels, however, has upset that stability. Our coastal cities, agricultural food production upon which we depend, and other environment-dependent livelihoods are placed at risk if we allow warming to continue. Because of the inertia of ocean temperature, i.e., the long period required to cool once it has warmed, we stand to lock in highly undesirable consequences for young people and future generations.
18. It is, accordingly, critical that we strive to keep global warming from exceeding about 1°C relative to the pre-industrial level, consistent with our prior conclusion that we must aim to reduce CO2 to less than 350 ppm. The appropriate limits for global temperature and atmospheric CO2 may be lower, but they certainly are not higher.
19. Achieving those goals now requires not only the phasing out of emissions— including abandoning new major fossil fuel investment—but also “negative emissions,” i.e., extraction of CO2 from the air, to the extent feasible and practicable.
20. If phase down of fossil fuel emissions begins soon, most of this extraction can still be achieved via improved agricultural and forestry practices, including reforestation and steps to improve soil fertility and increase its carbon content. In that case, the magnitude and duration of global temperature excursion above the natural range of the current interglacial (Holocene) could be minimized.
21. But, in contrast, continued high fossil fuel emissions would place a burden on young people to undertake massive technological CO2 extraction if they are to limit climate change and its consequences. Estimated costs of such extraction are in the range of tens to hundreds of trillion U.S. dollars this century, which raises severe questions about their feasibility. Continued high fossil fuel emissions unarguably sentences young people to a massive, implausible cleanup or growing deleterious climate impacts or both.
22. And yet we remain virtually locked in a worsening trajectory. See, in particular, Fig. 14 of Young People’s Burden (showing recent growth of total GHG effective climate forcing). This is the consequence both of affirmative actions to permit continued high fossil fuel extraction, production and utilization, and our collective failure to take affirmative action to secure emissions reduction. Rather, we see situations, where the government ignores the crisis and permits projects that depend on increasing fossil fuel extraction, exacerbate dangerous climate change, and risk our children’s rightful inheritance. We thus confront a planetary emergency: the harm to be prevented is imminent, further delay in confronting it serves to press that risk towards global catastrophe.
23. Particularly in light of approaching points of no return, it is, in my opinion, essential to commence serious and sustained action to return atmospheric CO2 to < 350 ppm without further delay. Essential, that is, if our governments wish to preserve coastal cities from rising seas and floods (caused in part by melting of Antarctic and Greenland ice) and superstorms, and otherwise to restore a viable climate system on which the life prospects of young persons and future generations so thoroughly depend.
The foregoing, accordingly, constitutes my best brief effort to explain our present, serious, global, climate crisis. I will have failed if, upon its review, the reader decides to shirk his or her fundamental responsibility. Now, more than before, we need to bring to bear our full acumen, time, and resources so as to demand and forge a viable future.
FOE Netherlands submits legal summons in historic climate case against Shell.
The Hague, April 5, 2019 – Today Friends of the Earth Netherlands will deliver a court summons to Shell to legally compel the company to cease its destruction of the climate, on behalf of more than 30,000 people from 70 countries. A 236 pagecomplaint will be delivered to Shell’s International Headquarters in the Hague this afternoon by Friends of the Earth Netherlands, ActionAid NL, Both ENDS, FossielvrijNL, Greenpeace NL,YoungFriends of the Earth NL, Waddenverenigingand a group of 500 co-plaintiffs.
Donald Pols, Director of Friends of the Earth Netherlands said, “Shell’s directors still do not want to say goodbye to oil and gas. They would pull the world into the abyss. The judge can prevent this from happening.”
In the court summons, Friends of the Earth Netherlands outlines why it is bringing this groundbreaking climate litigation case against Shell, highlighting the company’s early knowledge of climate change and its own role in causing it. Despite acknowledging that the fossil fuel industry has a responsibility to act on climate change, and claiming to “strongly support” the Paris Agreement, Shell continues to lobby against climate policy and to invest billions in further oil and gas extraction.
This is incompatible with global climate goals.
The 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, a key piece of evidence in this case, underlines the importance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees for the protection of ecosystems and human lives, and outlines the devastating and potentially irreversible impacts of any “extra bit of warming”.
The court summons proves that Shell’s current climate ambitions do not guarantee any emissions reductions, but would, in fact, contribute to a huge overshoot of 1.5 degrees of global warming. The plaintiffs argue that Shell is violating its duty of care and threatening human rights by knowingly undermining the world’s chances to stay below 1.5C.
In addition, the plaintiffs argue that Shell is violating Articles 2 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights: the right to life and the right to family life. In the historic Urgenda case against the Dutch state, the Dutch Appeals court created a precedent by ruling that a failure to achieve climate goals leads to human rights violations.
The court ordered the Dutch state to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% by the end of 2020.
Roger Cox, who initially represented Urgenda, is now leading Friends of the Earth’s case against Shell. Roger said, “If successful, the uniqueness of the case would be that Shell, as one of the largest multinational corporations in the world would be legally obligated to change its business operations. We also expect that this would have an effect onother fossil fuel companies, raising the pressure on them to change.”
If successful, the court case would rule that Shell must reduce its CO2emissions by 45% by 2030 compared to 2010 levels and to zero by 2050, in line with Climate Paris Accord. This would have major implications, requiring Shell to move away from fossil fuels.
Friends of the Earth International Climate Justice and Energy campaigner Sara Shaw said, “In leaked company documents from the 1990s Shell predicted that environmental organizations would start suing the company for causing climate change, if it did not listen to the warnings of its own scientists. Well, that day has come. This rising tide of climate litigation will finally call climate wrecking corporations like Shell to account and stop them in their tracks.”
Several lawsuits holding polluting companies to account for contributing to climate change exist globally. In 2016 a Peruvian farmer filed a lawsuit suing German coal company RWE for its contribution to glacier melt. In 2017 several American cities and states started climate cases against Shell, BP, ExxonMobil and Chevron.
Lowie Kok, Friends of the Earth Netherlands landline: +31 (0) 20 550 7333 mobile: +31 (0) 63 4930173
Sara Shaw, Friends of the Earth International; +44 (0)7974 008 270; email@example.com
Young adults speak out for their future to hold adults accountable for #climatechange
The school strike held by students, around the entire world, this past Friday on the Ides of March, was the largest to date.
Young adults protested to demand that politicians craft better climate oriented policies, for their future. Students gathered to protest what the adults have, in their eyes, abused from previous (business) actions and privileges to take materials and produce, without regard for the consequences for future generations.
Over time, these adults actions and (business) policy decisions contributed to the growth of carbon dioxide emissions which in turn contribute to a generally higher median temperature of the earth, as shown by scientific research by NASA.
This “demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.” (From a statement of 18 world-wide scientific organizations, in 2009).
An increase can definitely be measured with human activity as the main driver of the increase. The earth has been through climactic changes in the past.
This one is unprecedented due in part to the earth’s past history of stabilization, around the past 2,000 years.
There exists scientific consensus upon scientific consensus, and that scenarios and possibilities exist to halt this increase by changing human interactions.
Students are taking matters into their own hands, under the leadership of Greta Thunberg, who stood up every Friday to protest and to hold adults accountable, initially all by herself.
The United Nations invited her to speak and she did so with furore, as you can see and hear here on YouTube.
We fully support the students in their endeavors to effect proper change in this ever-changing world.
For instance, the Chevron v. Ecuador case has taken over 26 years to now stand in front of the Supreme Court of Canada, on the very basic issue of whether human rights trump corporate privileges on a global scale.
You can also become an (online) activist by using your favorite activity to promote awareness for these cases here.
Because when we stand together, we stand stronger!
This is How Youth All Over the World Speak Out for Climate Action
Worldwide, more and more children speak out for climate action. They go on a school strike, or sue the Government, because they want politicians and companies to take responsibility for the future. The climate needs priority, because the youth will live with the consequences. We will give you some examples of youth in action.
Two weeks in front of the Swedish Parliament
For two weeks the Swedish Greta Thunberg (15) was on strike at the Swedish Parliament. After the hottest summer ever, she was sure climate action was immediately necessary. She decided to skip school. What was the use of learning something, if politicians didn’t act on the facts. After the two weeks she went back to school, but she still school strikes every Friday. Her goal was clear: she wants politicians to treat the climate crisis as a priority.
Greta inspired a lot of other people to go on school strike. The Dutch plastic pollution activist Lilly (10) did the same after reading an article in the Guardian ‘Next generation may never see the glory of coral reefs‘. Every Friday she sits from 9 to 10 hours in front of the Town Hall in her village Zeist, until politicians listen to her.
Adults need to cooperate
Sophia Mathur (11) from Sudbury, Ontario, Canada is on school strike once a month. She saw the video of Greta Thunberg and asked her mother if she could do the same. Her message? “Adults need to cooperate and listen to the experts, because this is a crisis”. And also in Australia the message arrived. The group of participants is growing and together they want to make an impact. You can also sign their petition.
Follow their climate action
Want to know more about the developments? Follow their social media accounts #SchoolStrike on social media.
Intro Photo: Still from video ‘School Strike for Climate Action’.
In the United States a group of children between the ages of 11 to 22 are suing the U.S. government for their right to a safe and stable climate. This younger generation decided they would not sit idly and watch a safe future on this planet evaporate. Now they give a voice to their generation.
On 2 November 2018 the United States Supreme Court allowed the lawsuit to go ahead and proceed. Now the case may head to trial proceedings.
Safe climate is a civil right
In 2015 the children started testing the idea that a safe climate is a civil right, by filing the lawsuit against the Obama administration for the first time. The youth and children argued that the policy of the U.S. was not in the best interest of their future, by pursuing policies that harmed the climate.
It was robbing them of a future climate that supports broad human survival.
A straightforward request
Lead lawyer Julia Olson is also founder of the nonprofit Our Children’s Trust. The mission of Our Children’s Trust is to protect children from climate change. She argues that the lawsuit has a pretty straightforward request. It asks a U.S. Federal judge to order the government to start planning how to reduce carbon emissions and stabilize the climate system for future generations.
The Trump administration
In 2017 the U.S. District Court judge agreed with the youths’ claim. They could proceed to trial.
That same year the Trump administration took over the litigative position of government in this case. President Trump ordered to roll back some of the climate regulations in place at the Environmental Protection Agency. The promotion of fossil fuel production and the indifference to the risks of greenhouse gas emissions has only grown since then.
The government lawyers in the case asked for a review of the U.S. District Court judge’s decision. The government lawyers wanted to halt the trail and avoid litigation.
In a separate motion the government lawyers were also fighting against a request by the youth’s lawyers that the Justice Department preserve all relevant documents to the lawsuit. This includes information on climate change, energy, and emissions.
U.S. government will go to court
On October 29, 2018, the trial should have begun, but the U.S. Supreme Court issued a temporary stay. This meant there were larger legal issues pending the U.S. Supreme Court wanted to examine. The U.S. Supreme Court had received a request from the Justice Department for a stay to halt the case by the government’s lawyers.The Youth v. Gov case was temporarily halted while the U.S. Supreme Court decided.
On November 2nd the U.S. Supreme Court denied the government’s request.
Now the U.S. government will have to go to court. They will argue that there is no constitutional right to an environment free of climate change.
We will keep you posted on the proceedings of this interesting case.
In the mean time, should you want to learn more, you can check out their website at Youth v. Gov, or listen to this podcast.