Saturday, November 13, 2010

Oxfam's fantasy 'climate court' is both prescient and practical

John Vidal in the Guardian (UK): Imagine an international court where the poorest people in the world could sue countries such as the US or Britain for failing to keep to agreements to reduce climate emissions or for knowingly causing devastating climate change.

It's some way off, but this week has seen an extraordinary tribunal being held in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, with more than 1,200 people including British lawyers, politicians and economists, listening to the testimonies of villagers living at the frontline of climate change. It was only a mock tribunal, organised by Oxfam, but it explored the growing idea that the largest carbon emitters should be bound by international law to protect the lives and livelihoods of those most at risk from the impacts of climate change.

Rushanara Ali, the newly-elected MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, who is already shadow minister for international development, was there along with Richard Lord QC, who will be looking at the legislation that is available for affected countries to pursue.

…The cries for climate justice are growing stronger by the day. In Latin America, President Evo Morales has formally proposed to the UN that an International Court of Climate Justice is established. It would have the capacity to restrain, prosecute and punish states, companies and people who, by act or omission, make major contributions to climate change.

…Of interest to Oxfam and even the UN could be a new paper from Field, the London-based Foundation for International Environmental Law & Development. This shows how there are many existing laws and principles available for states to sue one another for damage caused by climate change, and how this could pressure nations into stronger international action. Top of the list was the "no-harm rule", a widely recognised principle of customary international law, which Field's lawyers say is directly applicable to climate change….

Gaetano Gandolfi's "Allegory of Justice," painted in the 1760s. A cherub, no doubt working for a fossil fuel emitter, is attempting to fiddle with the scales

No comments: