Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Environmental Human Rights Claims: Two Updates

Earlier this month, a group of indigenous Australians filed a legal complaint against the Australian government for violating their human rights by contributing to climate change.  The complaint, filed by indigenous people from the low-lying Torres Strait Islands to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, alleges that the Australian government’s inadequate response to the climate crisis is a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Australia is a party.  The complaint represents the first climate change case in Australia based on human rights claims and it is believed to be the first in the world brought by residents of low-lying islands against a national government.   More information on the proceeding is available here.

Meanwhile, the U.S. courts continue to consider the claims in Juliana v. United States, a case filed by a group of young people under the public trust doctrine challenging the U.S. for its actions contributing to climate change.   The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled a hearing in the case, in Portland, Oregon, on June 4th, 2019.  At issue is whether the case will be allowed to proceed to trial and whether the government will be enjoined from issuing leases for fossil fuel extraction on public lands.

Supporters of the Juliana plaintiffs are urged to gather on June 4 at Director Park downtown at 10:30 a.m., just a few blocks from the courthouse to make clear to the federal government that the American people support these young plaintiffs and the constitutional rights they seek to protect.   

The rally organizers add:  "If you can't be in Portland to rally on June 4, visit for information on how you can show solidarity from wherever you are. Help us make history by having this be the most watched Ninth Circuit oral argument ever."

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