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Declaration on Climate Change, Rule of Law and the Courts

We the undersigned, being judges; policymakers; academics; legal practitioners; natural, political and social scientists; economists; public health experts; civil society representatives; youth activists; and other stakeholders:

Acknowledge that climate change is a common concern of humankind in that the world faces a code red global climate emergency due to the negative impacts of anthropogenic global warming on human health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, biodiversity and ecosystems, economic prosperity, and ultimately peace and security for humanity;

Understand that the window for limiting global warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels is closing, and that immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and removals from the atmosphere are necessary;

Recognise that, unless immediate action is taken, young people and future generations will suffer worse climate change impacts, and that those least responsible for creating the climate crisis will be the ones most harmed;

Regret that States' measures are lagging far behind achieving the internationally agreed goals to independently and cooperatively mitigate, and enhance resilience to climate change effects;

Observe the increase in the number of cases brought before domestic courts seeking to achieve more ambitious climate action from States and corporations;

Note that the climate crisis is a human rights crisis and that respecting, protecting, and fulfilling human rights is a fundamental obligation of all organs of the State, including the judiciary, as well as of international courts and tribunals;

Declare that

1. An Imperative Engagement

It is imperative that courts hear and adjudicate claims arising in the context of the climate crisis and determine the existence of any rights or obligations and their content in accordance with relevant international and domestic law;

2. Balancing of Powers Between the Organs of the State

When the legislative and executive branches are failing in their obligations, the doctrine of the separation of powers should not limit the role of judges in determining whether the other branches are operating within the limits of the law, as well as whether limitations on human rights are justified. On the contrary, this is the foundational role of the courts;

3. Role of Climate Science and the Law

Judicial decisions concerning issues of foreseeability and causation for the consequences of climate change should be climate science and evidence-based;

4. Interpretation of the Law in the Current Reality

Application of the law must be governed by known principles of statutory interpretation, taking into account the current unique global reality of the climate crisis. Courts should, where appropriate, consider emerging and novel causes of action and the accountability of varied actors, both State and non-State. The law should assess whether traditional legal structures and principles of standing need to be re-thought and adjusted to apply coherently in this context;

5. Protection of Environmental Defenders

The activism, resilience, strength, and determination of environmental defenders, including youth activists, play a vital role on the frontline of the climate crisis. It is crucial that the law, in substance and practice, protects the rights and safety of environmental defenders in furtherance of their activism;

6. Global Partnership and Dialogue among Judges

Judicial dialogue and continuing the cross pollination between courts and judges within and across States is key to identifying and applying principles of law in responding to climate change, the most demanding and truly universal problem of our times;

7. Appeal to the World Community

States, sub-national governments, regional organisations and other relevant international organisations, legislators, civil society, and the private sector have an unquestionable responsibility to urgently, fully, and cooperatively engage to respond effectively to climate change.

This declaration was presented at an event co-organized with the University of Glasgow and Hausfeld. Find out more here. The Declaration builds on the discussions which took place in July at a ground-breaking global summit entitled 'Our Future in the Balance: The Role of Courts and Tribunals in Meeting the Climate Crisis.

View the list of signatories below:

  • Abby Maxman, Oxfam
  • Advocacy for Principal Action in Government Advocacy for Principal Action in Government
  • Alexandra Bartlet
  • Alice de Moraes Amorim Vogas, Humboldt Chancellor Fellow
  • Alina Holzhausen, British Institute of International and Comparative Law; University of Aberdeen
  • Alison Baker, Civil Society Representative
  • Ananda M Bhattarai, Supreme Court of Nepal
  • Anastasia Kantzelis, 6 Pump Court Chambers
  • Anita van Wees
  • Anne Stevignon, Université Paris I
  • Anthony Joseph Brogan
  • April Williamson, ClientEarth
  • Aravind Hareendran, University of Glasgow
  • Avaaz Avaaz
  • Berenika Drazewska, British Institute of International and Comparative Law
  • Bi for Business Integrity & Partners Georgetown University Law Center
  • Bridget Ostronic
  • Camila Ringeling, Hausfeld
  • Carolina de Figueiredo Garrido, JUMA / NIMA / PUC-Rio
  • Castineira Law
  • Cesare Romano, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles
  • Chenghuai Xu, Univerisit of Edinburgh School of Law
  • Chris Hilson, University of Reading
  • Christina Eckes, University of Amsterdam
  • Climate Justice Programme
  • Daniel Draper, University of British Columbia
  • Daniele Santos, University of Coimbra
  • Daria Ermini, University of Law
  • Darmashakthini Arujunan, Chatham House
  • David R. Boyd, UN
  • Declan Owens, Ecojustice Legal Action Centre / Ecojustice Ireland
  • Deepaloke Chatterjee
  • Dennis van Berkel, Urgenda Foundation
  • Désirée Abrahams, Global Action Plan
  • Due Process of Law Foundation Daniel Cerqueira, Human Rights and Natural Resource Program
  • Ece Uyanık Kadir, Has University
  • Esmeralda Colombo, University of Bergen
  • Estelle Dehon, Cornerstone Barristers
  • Eva Japp, Leigh Day
  • Farah Al Hattab
  • Filippo P. Fantozzi, Urgenda - Climate Litigation Network
  • Francisco Javier Camarena Juarez, Universidad De la Salle Bajío
  • Frank Biermann, Utrecht University
  • Gabriel Wedy, Unisinos University
  • Gabriela Bucher, Oxfam
  • Geoffrey Supran, Harvard University
  • Ginevra Bicciolo, Hausfeld & Co LLP
  • Gloria Sdanganelli, University of Turin
  • Green Business Partners Legal Research Institute
  • Grizelda Mayo Anda, Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC)
  • Gustavo Grebler, Grebler Advogados
  • Heloísa Oliveira, University of Lisbon School of Law
  • Hertie School Centre for Fundamental Rights
  • Ilse Griek,  Municipality of Amsterdam
  • IP Ping Ting Grace, Fellow to both the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (East Asia Branch) and the Hong Kong Institute of Arbitrators; and CEDR Accrediated Mediator
  • Irene Antonopoulos, Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Islam Nosseir, University of Glasgow
  • Ivano Alogna, British Institute of International and Comparative Law
  • Jaap Spier, University of Stellenbosch (retired Advocate-General in the Dutch Supreme Court)
  • Jacqueline Mineur,  Professional and personal
  • Jacqueline Peel, University of Melbourne
  • Jae-Hyup Lee, Seoul National University, South Korea
  • Jan Juffermans, Dutch Footprint Group
  • Jan van de Venis, Lab for Future Generations
  • Jan van de Venis, JustLaw
  • Jan van de Venis, Stand Up For Your Rights (NGO)
  • Jay Cullen, Edge Hill University & University of Oslo
  • Jean-Pierre Gauci, British Institute of International and Comparative Law
  • Jeremy Gould, University of Helsinki
  • Joko Agus Sugianto, Supreme Court of Indonesia
  • Joseph Wilde-Ramsing, Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO)
  • Judith Carter, University of Liverpool
  • Kamala KC, S&L Partners
  • Karolina Bonde, New York Bar Association
  • Katalin Sulyok, ELTE University
  • Keely Boom, Climate Justice Programme
  • Khamidullin, Hausfeld
  • Kristin Hausler, British Institute of International and Comparative Law
  • Laura Schuijers, The University of Melbourne
  • Lauren Chaplin, Leigh Day
  • Liberal OAB
  • Lin Harmon-Walker, George Washington University Law School
  • Lionel Nichols, Candey
  • Lisa Smith, Solicitor
  • Lori Osmundsen, University of Oslo
  • Lucile Milon
  • Makane Moïse Mbengue, University of Geneva
  • Malwé Claire,  University of Rennes 1
  • Mandy Stewart Owens
  • Marc Willers QC, Garden Court Chambers
  • Margaretha Wewerinke-Singh, Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies (Leiden University); Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (University of the South Pacific); Blue Ocean Law
  • Margrit VON BRAUN, TerraGraphics Int'l Foundation
  • María Valeria Berros, UNL/CONICET
  • Marika Cash
  • Michael B. Gerrard, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School
  • Michael Burger, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law
  • Michele Siri EUSFIL, University of Genoa
  • Mikalah Singer, Fox Protection International
  • Mitchell Lennan, University of Strathclyde
  • Mohammad Mehdi Bateni, IUSS
  • Munhee Jung, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, South Korea
  • Nigel Pleming, QC 39 Essex
  • Oene Marseille
  • Oladele Osinuga, Pan American Development Foundation
  • Ottavio Quirico, Australian National University; University of New England; European University Institute
  • Oxfam International 
  • Pau de Vílchez Moragues, President of the Climate Change Committee of the Balearic Islands, Deputy Director of the Interdisciplinary Lab on Climate Change (LINCC), Lecturer in International Law at the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB)
  • Paul Q. Watchman,  United Nations Special Legal Adviser
  • Prof. Dr. Ulrich Magnus, University of Hamburg and Max-Planck-Institute, Hamburg
  • R Karlina Lubis, Universitas Tidar
  • Rebecca Cox
  • Rebecca McMenamin, Victoria University of Wellington
  • Richard Heede, Climate Accountability Institute
  • Robert Rybski, University of Warsaw
  • Ruben Elkerbout Stek
  • Ruth Keating, Bar of England & Wales and Bar of Ireland
  • Sam Adelman,  University of Warwick
  • Sara L Seck, Dalhousie University
  • Sarah McCullagh, Clifford Chance LLP
  • Sarah Mead, Urgenda - Climate Litigation Network
  • Shanmuga Sundara Bharathi, IUCN CEC; CEM; WCPA
  • Simon Wickham
  • Sophie Gilliam, BarentsKrans
  • Stacey Alvarez de la Campa, Worldwide Sustainability Warriors 
  • Stephan Sonnenberg, Seoul National University School of Law
  • Stéphanie Caligara, GLAN
  • Stephen Middleton
  • Sumudu Atapattu, University of Wisconsin Law School
  • Thae S. Khwarg, S&L Partners
  • Tom Bolster, Hausfeld & Co. LLP
  • Trisha Rajput, University of Gothenburg
  • Universidad Católica de Trujillo
  • University of Glasgow
  • Viviana Krsticevic Center for Justice and International Law
  • William Vazquez, Hausfeld
  • Yao-Ming, Hsu College of Law, National Cheng-Chi University, Taiwan
  • Zaker Ahmad, University of Chittagong
  • Zamira Xhaferri, University of Amsterdam

140 signatories as of 15/11/2021 


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