Is there Global Climate Justice? Vitsa, Greece --- July 17-20, 2017

International Environmental Law and Climate Change: Is there Global Climate JusticeIn the mountain village of Vitsa in Epirus, Greece, seminar participants came together to discuss the issue of environmental laws and climate change, seeking to answer the question, “is there international climate justice?” Through a series of talks delivered by expert speakers that culminated in a group session to discuss outcomes, the seminar explored the urgent need to address climate change, and the unbalanced and unjust nature of who bears the burdens of its impacts, especially in small island developing nations and Africa. It was agreed that climate change poses a singular threat to the whole of humanity, and should be viewed as a major security concern. In consideration of these problems, several avenues of redress were put forward. Experts gave presentations on the role of global climate finance to address inequality and difficulties in adaptation, and of technology to transition the energy sector away from fossil fuels and provide crucial education.

The primary purpose of the seminar was to examine the effectiveness of international environmental laws, both in enforcing global emission reduction targets and in providing redress for victims who are already feeling the effects of the changing climate.  There is concern that the current international legal frameworks, including international human rights law, are not adequately equipped to address the overwhelming threat posed by unchecked climate change. Nevertheless, some legal mechanisms were presented as having potential to effect real change and act as a template for future action, including the United Kingdom’s 2008 Climate Change Act and the 2015 Paris Accord.

One unifying theme from discussions on how to achieve climate justice was a desire to see an explicitly developed and recognized right to environment at the international level. It was suggested that the strengthening of individual rights on a global scale could be instrumental in achieving climate justice. Please click here for more information, including our outcome document.


Kelci Wilford