Climate change is a threat to human rights. Court rulings are now making governments and businesses sit up and listen. Sitting back and doing nothing to stop global warming is becoming less and less of an option, as more and more citizens seek redress in the highest courts.
Top courts recently passed judgements forcing oil companies and governments to do more to prevent climate change. Up to now, the enormous power of the petrochemicals industry has gone largely unhindered. But some environmental organizations and activists are no longer prepared to accept that. Felix Ekardt, head of the Research Unit Sustainability and Climate Policy in Leipzig and Berlin, has filed several suits with Germany’s Constitutional Court. In his opinion, the German government’s Federal Climate Change Act is too lax. Judges at Germany’s top constitutional court agreed, in part, with Ekardt and his co-plaintiffs. They ruled that long-term measures were required to achieve zero emissions and that the German state needed to do more to achieve that goal. More and more environmental cases are coming before the courts – worldwide: There have been similar verdicts in France, the Netherlands and New Zealand.
The Paris Agreement aims to limit the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees and preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The agreement is binding. But up to now the climate accord has not actually led to major structural change. The documentary shows what the latest court rulings mean for environmental policy and climate change. After all, climate change poses a risk to human rights.