Greta Thunberg Lawsuit, Climate Change and Bangladesh

Tahmidur Rahman

As a country, Bangladesh has taken quite a few admirable steps in recognizing the threat of climate change and taking appropriate steps to address it from our point of view— such as formulating the Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan— at the end of the day, it is up to developed nations to pay the price for climate change.

To this end, a welcome first move is the latest UK commitment of some 6 billion pounds to assist Bangladesh and other fragile nations fight climate change.

That said, it sounds paltry, let alone for a couple of nations, the figure of 6bn pounds to help even one nation fight climate change.

It goes without stating, but advanced nations like the United Kingdom— whose fast industrialization has done more to damage the environment in recent decades than that of emerging countries like Bangladesh— need to do more in terms of both action and financing.

Greta Thunberg and 15 other young individuals lodged a climate complaint that could possibly change worldwide on Monday. The group of teenagers cranked the heat even further on an abnormally steamy day in New York, when sweat constructed on the brows of the dark-suited diplomats funneling into the UN for a significant climate summit.

They announced they are suing five of the world’s main carbon polluters on the basis that their rights as kids are being violated by nations. The United Nations would describe the climate crisis as a crisis of children’s freedoms if the suit is effective. More importantly, it would force Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, and Turkey— the five countries named in the suit— to work with other nations to forge binding emission reduction objectives, a sharp shift from present global attempts that have essentially rearranged the Titanic deck chairs so far.

“This is all wrong, I shouldn’t be up here,” Thunberg said, addressing the General Assembly and shaking with rage. “I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. You have stolen my dreams, my childhood with your empty words. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line.”

Over the previous year, the movement for youth climate activism has exploded previous ideas of what is feasible in the climate politics domain. Every Friday beginning last August, Greta Thunberg’s solitary strike outside the Swedish parliament has created a worldwide motion. An approximately 4 million young adults and their followers have taken to the streets around the globe to demand climate action this previous Friday.

“Above all, young people — young people provide solutions, insist on accountability, and demand urgent action,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres opening the Climate Action Summit. “They’re right.” “We’re going to take up the challenge, we’re going to hold those who’re the most responsible for this crisis accountable, and we’re going to create the world rulers behave,” Thunberg said at the New York strike on Friday prophetically. “We can and we will.” The suit, filed by the international law firm Hausfeld on behalf of the youth, claims that under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, world governments are violating the rights of children. The Convention adopted in 1989 is the most signed human rights treaty ever drafted, setting out children’s inalienable rights. Among other things, they include the right to life, health, and peace, all with unique provisions for indigenous groups. They’re all up climatic change stuff as well. Climate change is already making children and adults ill, killing them, and eradicating their life.

Alexandria Villaseñor, one of the U.S. climate strike movement’s plaintiffs and officials, informed Earther that she went to climate activism after a toxic smoke cloud from last year’s Camp Fire fell on Davis, California, while visiting the family. She was forced to finish her visit early, leaving a changed person. She has been and counting on strike outside the UN for 41 weeks.

“I decided to be part of this case because we still haven’t got the enough action we need after the learners were hit,” she informed Earther. “So we’re going to the next step.” The stifling effects of climate change have been addressed by each of the 16 complainants on the complaint. Ayakha Melithafa, a Cape Town 17-year-old, had to leave in fear of running out of water during the drought fuelled by climate change in the city. Debbie Adegbile, a 12-year-old from Lagos, Nigeria, saw her asthma worsen during increasingly serious heat waves, one of the clearest climate indices, as well as more serious flooding and waterborne disease risk. In a brief given to journalists, many of the youth— all under the era of 18—used phrases such as “frightened,” “sad,” and “angry” to define their emotions about climate change and the hellscape it creates.

 

“I sometimes see Ebeye sinking in my mind and many individuals drowning,” said Ranton Anjain, a low-lying Marshall Islands complainant, in a declaration. Ebeye, which measures only 80 acres, has an estimated 15,000 population, most of which are under 18 years of age.

“The sea swallows our homes, the places where memories are created,” said Carlos Manual, a Palau-based 17-year-old, at a press conference to announce the suit. “Because I care about my generation, I’m standing in front of you.” Teenagers are from all over the globe, including four of the five named nations. Their complaint represents the absence of boundaries in the atmosphere. Carbon pollution from Brazil’s human-ignited fires changes the climate just as much as Turkey’s coal-fired plant emissions. What the five countries all have in common is that they belong to a group of 51 nations that have signed what is known as the Convention’s Third Optional Protocol. This protocol enables kids from all over the globe to sue the countries that have signed on to the protocol. A commission of 18 global specialists on children’s rights will now hear the complaint lodged on Monday. Juliane Kippenberg, Associate Director of the Children’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, informed Earther that the suit utilizes a system that has only been around since 2014 and has “not earned so much attention yet” for climate relief.

If the commission discovers that climate change impedes the freedoms of the 16 complainants, the five nations named in the suit must either leave the convention or take the necessary radical action to tackle climate change.

Davies said the situation would probably be “successful,” but it also shows the intrinsic weakness of international laws, many of which were drafted before the seriousness of the climate crisis became apparent.

“The issue with most international law tools, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, is that they were drafted in advance of science affirming climate change threats,” she said. “Therefore, the challenges posed by climate change to the law must be’ refitted’ into legal frameworks that have not been drafted for this purpose.” The best available science in the world demonstrates that governments need to quickly reduce their emissions in order to maintain a climate that is somewhat similar to that which allows beings to flourish. The destiny of millions of children and unborn generations is hanging in the balance, and how quickly the globe will determine their destiny. Yet, despite commitments to the Paris Agreement, last year’s global carbon emissions grew.

Children have prosecuted the U.S. government in a landmark case called Juliana v. U.S. that has been walking its way through federal courts for years. Sébastien Duyck, a senior lawyer at the Center for Environmental Law, pointed out as another precedent a case lodged previously this year by Torres Strait Islanders against Australia. The low-lying islands on which they reside are consumed by increasing waters, and for failing to decrease their emissions, they lodged an global human rights case against Australia. Take these two instances and mash them together, and the fresh case introduced by Thunberg and her fellow plaintiffs is roughly approximated.

“These instances assist reveal the hypocrisy of nations claiming to be fully committed to realizing human rights while undermining those rights by lacking adequate intervention to address climate change,” Duyck told Earther in an email.

If the case succeeds, it may set fresh international law precedents. While the five nations account for 6.12 percent of total global carbon emissions, the complaint’s executive summary suggests the children are requesting them “to participate instantly with other states in binding global collaboration to mitigate the climate crisis,” which could (and should) include other nations not listed in the complaint.

The world’s history of climate treaties has been checked. The Kyoto Protocol, a treaty laid down in 1997, was binding and, as a consequence, the U.S. endorsed the treaty. Much of the treaty was a failure. The more latest Paris Agreement is non-binding in an attempt to take the U.S. on board. That has not yet prevented President Trump from attempting to leave it, and so far the treaty has turned out to be more words than real behavior. And nations ‘ obligations to decrease carbon pollution are nowhere near sufficient to prevent catastrophic climate change.

But just because governments fail does not imply that people need to take it lying down. If the strikes were the start of a new era of climate action, the complaint opens up more and more possibilities.

“As the human rights effects of climate change are progressively affecting people around the globe,” Duyck said, “one can only expect that more individuals wishing to safeguard their communities ‘ freedoms will try to hold states responsible for their (in)action — including through the use of global human rights bodies.”

With the recent rise of student protests around the world to urge their governments to take swift action against the global climate crisis, developed nations have never had a better time to take the necessary action to help smaller countries deal with the crisis themselves.

“Our homes are being swallowed by the ocean, the places where memories are made

Carlos Manual

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