Climate Justice

Enforcing climate change law


| September 30, 2004


According to Klaus T?pfer of the United Nations Environment Program, 'We have over 500 international and regional agreements, treaties and deals covering everything from the protection of the ozone layer to the conservation of the oceans and seas,' and yet few of these agreements are enforced with the vigor necessary to effectively combat climate change. The Climate Justice Programme is a collaborative directed by lawyers Peter Roderick in the U.K. and Roda Verheyen in Germany, with U.S. coordination by Jon Sohn. The Programme has brought suits in the three countries in which it works, challenging pollution and environmental policy with existing laws.

The Climate Justice Programme's Peter Roderick, in a June 2004 press release announcing a lawsuit in Germany wrote: 'Climate change litigation has now arrived in Europe. Legal action of this kind will intensify until the developed world and its corporations face up to their global responsibilities and deliver huge cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.' The suit was organized by Roderick's group with Germanwatch and Friends of the Earth Germany to force the German government to make public the records of taxpayer supported programs that may have adverse environmental effects.

John Sohn, the Climate Justice Programme's liaison in America, is a lawyer with Friends of the Earth. Sohn, together with Greenpeace, the City of Boulder (Colorado), and the city of Oakland (California) have organized a lawsuit against two U.S. government agencies that have allegedly funded fossil fuel projects without taking into account the environmental effects. The National Environmental Policy Act requires such accounting, and the agencies (the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation) have refused to consider the environmental impact of their funding activities.
-- Harry Sheff

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