“Climate Justice and Future Generations – A Beginner’s Guide”, by the EMA Alumni Taskforce on Climate Justice and the Rights of Future Generations.

This beginners guide will get you up to speed with climate justice and the rights of future generations in no time.



⚡ What is Climate Justice?
It is a social justice perspective on the causes and solutions of climate change.

⚡Why is it important?
Climate Justice recognises that the 👥 vulnerable groups are the people who are most affected by the effects of climate change. It links human rights and development to achieve a more equitable sharing of burdens and benefits of climate change.

🌟 Different groups such as social movements, scholars and governments are using the term in different ways. It is, however, usually about adding a social justice lens to climate change issues, that is, acknowledging not only the environmental and technical, but also the social and economic aspects of climate change, especially global inequality. It examines:

Who is disproportionately affected
Who is more vulnerable
Who is more accountable
Who is more responsible

🔦 Climate justice means, for example, taking the rights of indigenous people into account in climate change negotiations and measures. Indigenous peoples are custodians of some of the most biologically diverse territories of the world. Their worldview, culture and food security are innately tied to their ancestral lands. Therefore, they are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and displacement from these lands also adversely affects their social and economic rights.

🔦 It also means that climate displacement must recognize that climate change is a form of structural violence caused by the emissions of the planet’s most affluent inhabitants. An approach to climate displacement grounded in climate justice must recognize the differential responsibility of states for climate change and require not only aggressive mitigation measures but also financial and technical contributions to mitigation, adaptation, and disaster risk reduction in vulnerable countries.

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Dive into Climate Justice:

👉 Roser, D., & Seidel, C. (2017). Climate justice. an introduction. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.
👉Jafry, T. Routledge handbook of climate justice. (2019). Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, earthscan from Routledge.
👉‘Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice | Principles of Climate Justice, https://lnkd.in/g5FRkp6p
👉UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, ‘State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples’ (2019). United Nations.
👉Gonzalez, Carmen G., Climate Justice and Climate Displacement: Evaluating the Emerging Legal and Policy Responses (April 3, 2019). Wisconsin International Law Journal, Vol. 36, No. 2, 2019, Available at SSRN: https://lnkd.in/gf79CPWx



🤔 What is intergenerational equity?
The terms “intergenerational equity” or “intergenerational justice”, have been used interchangeably since the 1980s. They represent a widely recognized principle of international environmental law which requires the preservation of the earth’s natural resources and the environment for the benefit of future generations.

🤔 Why is it important?
Climate change and its various current adverse impacts (greenhouse emissions, heatwaves, floods, disruption of food systems, diseases and mental health issues) will directly affect the generations to come. Among them, the most vulnerable ones will be disproportionately affected. Intergenerational justice recognizes the human rights of the humans not yet born and focuses on the responsibility of the living generations to take measures -today – to protect the future ones.

Although the principal used to be rarely invoked in court rulings, there is an increasing number of

🌟 Important Judgements on Intergenerational Justice🌟

🎯   Held v Montana / United States. This landmark climate ruling bars the state from taking any current action that would negatively affect future generations. It thus becomes a precedent for future suits in those states that do have environmental rights provisions, and an already-established jurisprudence that allows for suits to be brought by individuals and NGOs under those provisions.

🎯 2021 Neubauer, et al. v. Germany. In this case, the German youth challenged Germany’s Federal Climate Protection Act at the Federal Constitutional Court arguing that the target under the legislation of reducing GHGs by 55% until 2030 from 1990 levels was insufficient. The Court struck down parts of the legislation stating that the obligation under the Basic Law extended beyond protecting the climate and “also concerns how environmental burdens are spread out between different generations”.

🎯 2020 Urgenda Foundation v. State of Netherlands, the Dutch Supreme Court held that the government had a duty to protect the rights to life and home from the threat of climate change, but did not feel the need to decide on whether plaintiffs could represent future generations by noting that; “After all, it is without a doubt plausible that the current generation of Dutch nationals, in particular but not limited to the younger individuals in this group, will have to deal with the adverse effects of climate change in their lifetime.”

#2- Rights of future generations.


⚡ What are the “rights of future generations”?
The human rights belonging to humans not yet born, but dependent on the actions of the living generations.

⚡ Why are they important?
Whether “future generations” are rights holders is one of the central questions in contemporary human rights philosophy, law, and political campaigns. Who is considered a subject of human rights is never a given. Today, one of the major struggles for rights concerns the acknowledgement of “future generations.”

🌟 The issue becomes especially salient when we think of climate change: current generations destroy the planet. Do future generations not have the rights to a clean environment and life recognised for current generations? Indeed, they are particularly vulnerable for rights violations.

💪 In some countries, the rights of future generations are already enshrined in national law. The UNCRC General Comment 26 has also recognised future generations to be rights holders.The Maastricht Principles on the Human Rights of Future Generations adopted in February 2023, make a clear statement of States’ and other actors obligations under international and human rights law and are already endorsed by a wide range of global experts and current and former UN mandate holders.

Court decisions on climate litigation have recognised either indirectly or explicitly the rights of future generations:

🎯 The First Senate of the German Federal Constitutional Court Decision on “Klimaschutzgesetz (Climate Protection Act), KS” / 2021 highlighted that the German Constitution entails the element of Solidarity. By declaring that the Climate Protection Act was unconstitutional the Court has given an explicit answer that climate solidarity extended to future generations.

🎯 The Colombian Supreme Court Decision on “Future Generations v Colombia” / 2018 examined child rights violations by the State of Colombia and explicitly recognised the environmental rights of the future generations in the decision, based on the ethical duty of solidarity of the species and the intrinsic value of the future.

Dive into the rights of future generations:
👉 https://lnkd.in/dP3bpZ_d
👉 https://lnkd.in/djFkrgw7
👉 Hiskes, R. P. (2005). The Right to a Green Future: Human Rights, Environmentalism, and Intergenerational Justice [research-article]. Human Rights Quarterly, 27(4), 1346-1364.
👉 Lewis, B. (2018). The Rights of Future Generations within the Post-Paris Climate Regime [article]. Transnational Environmental Law, 7(1), 69-88.
👉 Lewis, B., & Poff, D. (2023). Human Rights Duties Towards Future Generations and Achieving Climate Justice. Springer International Publishing.

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