Sunday, May 12, 2019

Will We Be Putting Our Leaders on Trial?

An aboriginal claim hits the United Nations tomorrow. It is brought by Australia's Torres Strait Islanders. A coastal group facing devastating sea level rise, they contend that their government and, by implication, every government, owes its people a fundamental duty to ensure a livable environment.

...the Australians’ argument is the first to seek the weight of the United Nations behind such a climate claim, and it could set a precedent for how the populations most vulnerable to the effects of global warming can seek redress under international law.

It is also the first time that the Australian government — which has failed to meet emissions reduction targets and continues to approve embattled coal mine projects — has faced climate change litigation that asserts a human rights violation. The claimants call on the country to help fund sea walls and other infrastructure that might save the Torres Strait Islands, which have a population of about 4,500, and to meet the emissions targets set under the Paris climate agreement.

If successful, the case “would really break new ground internationally,” said John Knox, a professor of international law at Wake Forest University and a former special rapporteur on human rights and the environment to the United Nations.
A fundamental duty to ensure, i.e. safeguard, a livable environment. You might think that goes without saying. On the other hand, if you're part of the fossil energy economy you might find such a claim outlandish - as long as you're getting yours.

A livable future as a fundamental human right. There's an idea that is long overdue.


Anonymous said...

We're going to need some awful big walls to keep places like the Torres Straight Islands from flooding. For the first time since the Pliocene era, about 3 to 5 million years ago, we've past 415 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere.

During the Pliocene era, sea levels were 90 feet higher. It's only a matter of time before cities like Amsterdam, New Orleans, Lisbon and Miami become unliveable. With the manufacture of concrete being a significant contributor to climate change, I don't know how we'll keep these places from flooding.


Anonymous said...

We cannot even prosecute world leaders for their war crimes, good luck with "environmental prosecution."

Owen Gray said...

The world is already insane over migration. And, as areas flood, more and more people will head for higher and drier ground. We haven't seen anything yet.

The Mound of Sound said...

Some of you will realize that, even as I pen these urgent calls for reform, I am very much a pessimist/realist. That's what drew me several years ago to the Dark Mountain collective, a place for environmental writers and others who have had their fill of the lies civilization tells itself that it can continue on this path to madness.

Dark Mountain isn't about giving up the fight. It's about continuing to fight back without the expectation we'll turn this around.

Anonymous said...

Hoo-hum!! Hoo-hum!! You all know what has to be done. Have courage and say it.