Laser Talk: Our rights and liveable world

Laser Talk: Our rights and liveable world

Laser Talk: Our rights and a liveable world

March 2024 Updates:

A quarter of all US Americans live in jurisdictions that are suing big oil over lying to the public. For British Columbians municipalities seeking support to do the same Sue Big Oil is the go to organization. is youth led organization our of Newfoundland that is empowering and supporting youths seeking to sue.

There are three climate cases using sections of the Canada Charter of Rights and Freedoms to sue the government. They are:

  • On January 15, 2024, the Mathur et al case against the Ontario Government was back in court
  • In January 2024, the appellate court resuscitated the Le Rose et al case against the federal government.
  • On March 31, 2023, a Section 7 Charter lawsuit was filed by Climate Justice Saskatoon and seven residents against SaskPower, Crown Investments, and the Saskatchewan Government


On December 10, 2023, the world will celebrated 75 years since the United Nations (UN)  Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  (General Assembly resolution 217 A).

In the 21st century our rights to a liveable world are gaining traction – and none too soon.

On July 28, 2022 the UN General Assembly declared access to a clean and healthy environment a universal human right (In favour: 161, Abstentions: 8, Against: 0).

On March 29, 2023 the UN backed landmark Pacific-led resolution clearing the way for the International Court of Justice (ICJ) advisory opinion on climate obligations. Through the resolution, world leaders asked the ICJ to form an advisory opinion clarifying international legal consensus on climate change’s impacts on human rights and the rights of future generations.  The opinion will be non-binding, but experts say it could influence the outcome of climate change court cases around the world. The opinions themselves are not judgements, and the ICJ does not have the power to jail, fine or punish individuals or companies on the basis of them.  But they carry legal weight and moral authority that can influence future decisions.

On December 9, 2019  the national Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines announced the findings and recommendations from its path-breaking four-year inquiry into the human rights impacts of climate change in the Philippines and the contribution of 47 Carbon Major companies to those impacts. The inquiry is the first of its kind to undertake a serious examination of how the world’s largest producers of fossil fuels have contributed to climate-related human rights violations. The Commission found that climate change constitutes an emergency situation that demands urgent action. The Commission further concluded that Carbon Major companies played a clear role in anthropogenic climate change and its attendant impacts. The Commission found that, based on the evidence, Carbon Major companies could be found legally and morally liable for human rights violations arising from climate change.

On December 20, 2019,  the Dutch Supreme Court, the highest court in the Netherlands, upheld the previous decisions in the Urgenda Climate Case, finding that the Dutch government has obligations to urgently and significantly reduce emissions in line with its human rights obligations. A truly historic outcome!

On November 29, 2022 sixteen Puerto Rican Towns filed Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt  Organizations  (RICO) Suit against Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, and other fossil fuel giants for colluding on climate denial. “The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, featuring six major hurricanes and more than a dozen named storms, caused at least $294 billion worth of damages in the U.S. territory,” Reuters reported, citing the lawsuit. “Hurricanes Irma and Maria contributed to an estimated 4,600 deaths and the failure of critical infrastructure in Puerto Rico, the municipalities said.”

In 2023, an explosion of climate cases is in the queue. Here is just a sample.

On March 29, 2023, thousands of elderly Swiss women joined forces in a groundbreaking case heard at the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that their government’s “woefully inadequate” efforts to fight global warming violate their human rights.

In the U.S. in April 2023 a United States Supreme Court decision unleashed a wave of lawsuits against the fossil fuel industry that had been stuck in legal limbo for the last five years. Some California cities and counties are suing oil, gas, and coal companies after revelations that ExxonMobil had known since at least 1977 about the catastrophic effect of burning fossil fuels but worked to publicly cast doubt on the science. And in Montana, where the governor has just signed a bill banning the state from considering climate impacts when analyzing large projects such as coal mines and power plants, sixteen young people with Our Children’s Trust are taking the state government to court for its failure to address climate impacts.

In Canada, a ruling came down in the country’s first climate lawsuit to have had its day in court. Seven young people made history last autumn when they challenged the Ontario government’s rollback of its 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target. In March 2023 the case was dismissed by the judge, but the court found the plaintiffs’ case is ”justiciable”, which means it’s an appropriate legal question for the courts to weigh in on. Additionally, in the words of the court, it’s “indisputable” that due to climate change, Ontarians are experiencing an increased risk of death and harm, and by enacting a weak GHG emissions target, Ontario is contributing to that risk.  The youth and their lawyers are undaunted and determined they will appeal the decision. Two of the youth plaintiffs are members of CCL Canada: Sophia Mathur and Alex Neufeldt. As well, on March 31, 2023, a Section 7 Charter lawsuit was filed by Climate Justice Saskatoon and seven residents against SaskPower, Crown Investments, and the Saskatchewan Government

In Mexico, young people have led several important court cases challenging the slow pace of the country’s clean energy system. The supreme court is due to decide whether they are allowed to seek justice in at least one case.

Natural laws have always existed and there is a legal basis for living in harmony with nature. We are now retracing our steps.

Further Reading


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