Is our future in the hands of justice?
2 days after a limited, technical and hard-won agreement at the COP24 in Katowice, French NGOs (Greenpeace, Fondation pour le nature et l’homme, Affaire à Tous and Oxfam France) have taken court against France. They criticize the French government for not tackling climate change in a concrete and effective way and have given them a list of implementable solutions (i.e., investments, standards, controls, taxes…). They also stress the impacts of climate change on health, biodiversity, agriculture, extreme meteorological events and the fact that French Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions increased between 2016 and 2017.
If this type of action is rare, it is not the first of its kind. In the Netherlands, the Urgenda association has successfully complained against the Dutch State. The decision of the Lower Court in 2015 was been confirmed on October 9th by the Court of Appeal for “breach of duty” and ordered the Dutch State to drop CO2 emissions by 20% in 2020 in comparison with 1990.
For an International Criminal Court about climate?
These recent cries for action across the world highlight the passivity of the State when dealing with climate change, and their tendency to keep it near the bottom of their political agendas. Indeed, change will be necessary in all sectors (i.e. consumption, production, transportation means…) and tough decisions will have to be made. The judiciary institution is the last chance to prove that democracy can win against climate change, but could we wonder about its legitimacy to determine fair GHG emissions levels for the country it serves?
Given its impact in terms of deaths, injuries, destruction, massive population migration, and biodiversity loss- could we not consider that inaction is a kind of crime against humanity and should be considered as such with a specific, dedicated Court?
Emeric Nicolas, Head of Data Science
Sources: Beyond Ratings, WRI, Le Monde