On September 23, climate activist Greta Thunberg made an emotional, unforgettable speech to the on the U.N. Climate Summit in New York City. The full Youtube video is here ; her words are reproduced by The Guardian in an Opinion Piece titled “If world leaders choose to fail us, my generation will never forgive them”, and stating: “We are in the middle of a climate breakdown, and all they can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth.” A summary from The Guardian is here .
New landmark climate litigation
Also on September 23, Greta Thunberg and fifteen other young people from around the world submitted a groundbreaking legal petition to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. Respondent countries Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, and Turkey are the largest polluters amongst the 45 countries in the world which have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and agreed to an additional protocol that allows children to petition the UN directly about treaty violations.
The young people contend that these five countries are violating their rights under the Convention by failing to curb emissions and promoting fossil fuels, despite have known about the risks of climate change for decades. They are asking the U.N. Committee to make specific recommendations to the five nations about what they need to do to meet their treaty obligations, including changing laws to speed up the response to climate change and applying more diplomatic pressure on big polluters like the United States and China.
The complaint was prepared and filed on behalf of the youth petitioners by the international law firm Hausfeld LLP and the nonprofit environmental public interest law organization Earthjustice – whose press release is here . A dedicated website, Children vs Climate Crisis provides biographies and statements from each of the children, a copy of the 101-page Petition ,and a 338-page Appendix with detailed statements of the impacts on the petitioners’ lives.
The Earthjustice website is hosting a petition in support of the children’s case.