Justice Update – Climate Activists – The Eco Files

Jessica Simor at the ECtHR (screenshot:Council of Europe)

Our Eco Files series continues in this latest episode by looking at the people who are pushing for environmental issues to be judged in international courts. Every case we’ve looked at so far has had a host of activists behind all the lawyers, and this time we look at what motivates them and get their perspective on the cases they have brought to the international justice party.

Recently our occasional reporter and frequent guest on the podcast, Molly Quell, was at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to see the opening of a couple of climate-related cases. A complaint was heard from the KlimaSeniorinnen, a group of 2000 older Swiss women with an average age of 73 – a striking contrast to the typical idea that climate justice is being led by the youth. The group’s complaint underlines that as elderly women living in Switzerland they are more susceptible to the adverse effects of extreme climate events like heatwaves and the lack of response from the Swiss government represents a breach of their human rights. That isn’t the only climate case the court is dealing with, and Molly explains how Strasbourg tends to bundle a number of similar cases together and tries to reflect what decisions have been made at top national courts as they make their rulings.

Also in this episode, we throwback to one of our previous Eco Files episodes where we looked at the UNGA resolution to ask for an advisory opinion on the climate from the International Court of Justice. This time, however, we get in touch with two of the leading activists from the Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate Change. We get to the bottom of their motivations, expectations and thoughts on how their grassroots movement made it from a classroom at the University of the South Pacific to the World Court.