A comparative study of climate lawsuits: The use of human rights principles in domestic climate litigation
With its judgment of 2019 in the case of Urgenda, the Netherlands’ Supreme Court set an important precedent for climate litigation: it ordered the State to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% before the end of 2020. The Supreme Court achieved this by relying on, inter alia, rights protected under the European Convention on Human Rights (Articles 2 and 8). This was at a time when the European Court of Human Rights had not yet heard a claim on climate change (this is soon to change as a number of climate change cases are pending at Strasbourg). Urgenda was the first instance where human rights principles were applied by a court to climate change issues in Europe. In its wake, climate lawsuits ensued in jurisdictions all over the world, including in Europe in Belgium, Ireland, Germany, France, Norway, the UK, and Switzerland. This project will examine the extent to which applicants make use of human rights principles in climate change cases in domestic courts and how these courts react to these arguments. It will also examine which rights are invoked and whether greater use is made of the right to life (Article 2 ECHR) or the right to private and family life (Article 8 ECHR). DISSECT research team member Nele Schultz will assist Prof Dembour in the supervision of this project.