Extraterritoriality and judicial review of state's policies on global warming: Some reflections following the 2016 Scandinavian climate lawsuits

Autor:Pau de Vílchez Moragues
Cargo:Assistant Research Lecturer of International Law and PhD candidate, Faculty of Law, University of the Balearic Islands.
Páginas:1-27
RESUMEN

Durante el otoño de 2016, sendas demandas en Suecia y Noruega se añadieron a una creciente lista de litigios judiciales alrededor del mundo relativos al cambio climático. Anteriormente, la falta de ambición en la lucha contra el cambio climático había provocado un aumento del activismo medioambiental en todo el globo, el cual, alimentado por una profunda decepción a causa de la incapacidad de los ... (ver resumen completo)

 
EXTRACTO GRATUITO
www.reei.org
DOI: 10.17103/reei.34.03
EXTRATERRITORIALITY AND JUDICIAL REVIEW OF
STATE’S POLICIES ON GLOBAL WARMING: SOME
REFLECTIONS FOLLOWING THE 2016 SCANDINAVIAN
CLIMATE LAWSUITS
EXTRATERRITORIALIDAD Y REVISIÓN JUDICIAL DE
LAS POLÍTICAS DE ESTADO SOBRE EL
CALENTAMIENTO GLOBAL: ALGUNAS REFLEXIONES
TRAS LAS DEMANDAS ESCANDINAVAS DE 2016
Pau de Vílchez Moragues*
Summary: I. OVERVIEW OF CURRENT TRENDS ON CLIMATE CHANGE
LITIGATION. II. MAIN ELEMENTS OF THE SCANDINAVIAN CASES. III.
SPECIFICITIES OF THE SCANDINAVIAN CASES. IV. CONCLUDING REMARKS
ABSTRACT: On the fall of 2016, the slowly but steadily gro wing list of climate lawsuits around the world
welcomed two new legal disputes in Sweden and Nor way. Previously, the lack of a mbition in the struggle
against climate change had given way to a rise in environmental activism around the world, where
disappointment regarding gover nments’ inability to act evolved in some instances into a legal strategy to
challenge before the courts what was perceived as a renunciation by the State of its primal o bligation to
protect its citizens.
The recently filed lawsuits in Sweden and Norway are, undeniably, a part of that trend, but they have
some characteristic features, regarding both the scope of the claim and the extraterritorial dimension of
the cases, that open up new possibilities for the legal analysis of the obligations of States concerning
climate change. In this article, an effort is made to analyse those ne w perspectives in relation to the
previous case law as well as their possible grounding in international law.
RESUMEN: Dura nte el otoño de 2016, sendas demanda s en Suecia y Noruega se añadieron a una
creciente lista de litigios judiciales a lrededor del mundo r elativos al cambio climático. Anteriormente, la
Fecha de recepción del original: 19 de septiembre de 2017. Fecha de aceptación de la versión final: 20 de
noviembre de 2017.
* Assistant Research Lecturer of International Law and PhD ca ndidate, Faculty of Law, University of the
Balearic Islands (UIB). E -mail: pau.devilchez@uib.eu. This article is a revised version of a study
presented at the 2nd Tarragona International Environmental Law Colloquium (TIEC) - Longing for
Justice in a Climate-Changed World: From Theory to Practice, that took place at the Centre d’Estudis de
Dret Ambie ntal de Tarragona (CEDAT) of the University of Tarragona on may 2017. This ar ticle was
undertaken within the framework of the research project DER2015-65486-R, f unded by the Ministerio
Español de Economía y Competitividad.
[34] REVISTA ELECTRÓNICA DE ESTUDIOS INTERNACIONALES (2017)
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DOI: 10.17103/reei.34.03
falta de a mbición en la lucha contra el cambio climático había pr ovocado un aumento del activismo
medioambiental en todo el globo, el cual, alimentado por una profunda decepción a causa de la
incapa cidad de los gobiernos para dar una respuesta adecuada a dich o desafío, alumbró, entre otras,
una estra tegia legal que perseguía denuncia r ante los tribunales lo que a todas luces par ecía una
renuncia por parte de los Esta dos a la obligación pr imordia l de proteg er a su ciudada nía.
Las recientes dema ndas presentada s en Suecia y Noruega pertenecen sin lugar a dudas a esta tendencia,
pero manifiestan al mismo tiempo alguna s cara cterísticas peculia res que apuntan nuevas e interesantes
perspectivas pa ra el a nálisis jurídico de las obligaciones de los Estados en materia de cambio climático,
especialmente por lo que se refiere a la amplitud del objeto de la demanda y a la dimensión
extraterr itorial de dichos casos. En el presente artículo se pretenden a nalizar estas nuevas perspectivas
situándola s en relación con sus precedentes más cerca nos, así como su justificación desde la perspectiva
del derecho inter nacional.
KEYWORDS: Climate Change, Climate Litigation, International Environmental Law, Human Rights,
Extraterritoriality, Paris Agreement.
PALABRAS CLAVE: Cambio Climático, Litigación Climática , Derecho Internaciona l del Medio Ambiente,
Derechos Humanos, Extra territoria lidad, Acuerdo de P arís.
I. OVERVIEW OF CURRENT TRENDS ON CLIMATE CHANGE LITIGATION
Two decades of climate change negotiations with results that can be considered, at best,
as mitigated, and the lack of ambition that States have shown in the struggle against
climate change, particularly during the failed COP 15 in Copenhagen in 2009, have
given way to a rise in environmental activism around the world, where disappointment
regarding governments’ inability to act has evolved, in some instances, into a legal
strategy to challenge before the courts what is perceived as a renunciation by the State
of its primal obligation to protect its citizens.
1. The reasons for an inevitable selection of cases
It is not the objective of this article to analyse all climate change litigation of the last 15
years. Others have conducted remarkable studies of the first years of climate litigation
around the world, which are very helpful in both understanding the evolution of climatic
case law and conceptualising broader categories of cases.1 The intention of this first
section is rather to present the main common features of some of the recent cases
1 Among the relevant literature published before the new wave of successful or, at least, promising cases
that started in 2015, we can cite MARKELL, D. and RUHL, J.B., ‘An Empirical Assessment o f Climate
Change In T he Courts: A New J urisprudence Or Business As Usual?’, 64 Florida Law Review, at 1 5-86
(2012), GERRARD, M. B.; Macdougald, J. A., ‘An introduction to climate change liability litigation and
view to the future’, Connecticut Insurance Law J ournal 2 0(1), 2013, at 15 3-164, and WILENSKY, M.
‘Climate Change in the Courts: As Assessment of Non-US Litigation’, Duke Environmenta l Law &
Policy For um, nº 26, 2015, at 131-179., for a review of cli mate litigation outside the United States. For an
analysis of early litigation in Australia, which is the second most relevant countr y, after the US, in climate
litigation, see MI LLNER, F. and RUDDOCK, K., ‘Climate litigation: Lessons lear ned and future
opportunities’, Alternative Law Journal, Vol. 36, No. 1, Jan 2011, at 27-32.

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