“We demand justice for the climate”

Tribune. Floods in Germany, Belgium and China; mega-fires in California (United States), Greece, Turkey or Siberia (Russia); Temperature records in the northwest of the American continent: chronicle of the climate emergency over the summer. People, and among them the most vulnerable groups, are on the front line. Who will be held responsible?

States are not up to the task, their commitments too modest. In view of the objective set by the international community, which is to remain below the limit of 2 ° C of temperature rise, the account is not there. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates, in its sixth report, that the contributions announced under the 2015 Paris Agreement put us on a trajectory of 2.7 ° C. here at the end of the century. In addition, even if not very ambitious, these promises are not kept. Greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow, at the same rate as summits and scientific forums succeed one another.

Before the courts

However, it is striking to note that a handful of companies is responsible, for a significant part, of the infernal machine set in motion. The oil, gas, coal and cement giants – roughly 100 companies – alone are responsible for more than half of greenhouse gas emissions since the start of the industrial era.

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Several of them place their influence in the service of the status quo, some going so far as to finance “Sowers of doubt”, which propagate the theses of climate denial. In 2013, approximately $ 900 million (approximately € 773 million) was consecrated to deny the reality of climate change. The responsibility of these actors is considerable, but their impunity with regard to climate change remains almost complete: it is a blind spot for environmental policies.

Judges can help. The inability of governments to take decisive action explains why the courts have been on the scene for several years now: since 1986 in the world, more than 1,800 legal disputes relating to the climate have been brought.

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Until recently, these trials mainly targeted states. Like the ” Case of the century ” in France, of the case Urging on in the Netherlands, or« Climate case “ in Belgium, ordinary citizens and associations denounce before the courts the lack of ambition of the measures taken by those governing in the face of climate change, particularly in view of the impacts significant impacts of climate change on human rights.

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“We demand justice for the climate”