As older women are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts, a group of senior women in Switzerland founded the association KlimaSeniorinnen Schweiz (Senior Women for Climate Protection Switzerland) in order to fight for ambitious climate action by legally challenging the Swiss government's inadequate climate policies and mitigation measures. The KlimaSeniorinnen filed a legal request with the authorities, claiming that the Swiss authorities are failing to fulfil their duty to protect them as required by the Swiss Constitution and by the European Convention on Human Rights. This article provides a detailed analysis of the KlimaSeniorinnen case within the context of climate litigation worldwide. It argues that the case's human rights arguments, which are grounded in climate science, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Paris Agreement, environmental principles and international law, are generally transferable to almost any country. Therefore, vulnerable individuals and groups can learn from the KlimaSeniorinnen litigation that there are strong legal grounds to bring human-rights-based climate lawsuits against governments and thus governments should expect more litigation if their climate actions or omissions contravene international law and violate constitutional principles.
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Cordelia Christiane Bähr, Ursula Brunner, Kristin Casper and Sandra H Lustig
Edited by Evadne Grant
Colonialism has challenged Aboriginal obligations and relationships to the natural world. This article describes the efforts of First Nations on the continent now known as Australia to maintain their authority and existences in the face of neoliberalism and colonialism, which the British initially inflicted and under which we still survive. The colonial policies of Australia denied our existence and at the same time attempted to demolish our languages and cultures, and to assimilate the consequences. This article asks the questions: what underpins state claims to the title to Aboriginal lands? Does Australia renounce terra nullius and the racist principles and beliefs which make up such a doctrine? And finally does Australia acknowledge and support all ‘Peoples’ as having an inherent right to self-determination, and as a component of such a right, that all ‘Peoples’ have a right to collectively care for their country and to benefit from a relationship to the land which sustains future generations of all Peoples? The possibility of a future for all life forms on earth lies in the responses states might deliver to these questions.
The Anthropocene brings with it a risk of environmental disasters at scales not previously experienced. This chapter argues that disasters caused or made worse by climate change are appropriately addressed under the rubric of international climate law rather than global disaster policy. A turn to generic disaster risk reduction in response to the risks of climate disasters in the Anthropocene is no substitute for the urgent task of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet the objectives of the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Instruments such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, as important as they are, can offer only wishful thinking when it comes to the governance of environmental disasters in the Anthropocene.