“Gradually, then suddenly”. After many years of hard work, climate litigation is racking up unprecedented victories around the world. Both companies (Shell) and governments (Belgium, France, Germany, etc.) have been found to be negligent and in breach of human rights for their inaction and delay on the climate crisis. Other governments (e.g. Australia) have been found to have a duty of care to take action, but have been given an opportunity to do so.
One fundamental factor is the powerful evidence that climate change is already harming local citizens, and will seriously harm today’s young people. For example, the Australian court made a finding of fact that “one million of today’s [4.7 million] Australian children are expected to suffer at least one heat-stress episode serious enough to require acute care in a hospital. Many thousands will suffer premature death from heat-stress or bushfire smoke.” Even judges must have noticed the upsurge of floods, droughts, fires, storms, etc.. And perhaps they are hearing climate despair from their own children.
I am giving a presentation about climate lawsuit court decisions to young lawyers at the Ontario Bar Association next week. For now, I am sharing the slides here.