#RiseAbove

Protect your right to a stable climate and healthy environment!

People around the world are rising above the challenges of the climate crisis and reaching for a better future for us all. The movement is diverse and strong - from disaster survivors, frontline communities, Indigenous Peoples, farmers, youth, grandmothers, and more.  These people are pushing back because fossil fuel companies and governments are failing to protect and respect human rights.

Climate change threatens human rights. We are already experiencing the impacts, including sea-level rise, temperature increase, extreme weather events, and changes in precipitation. These in turn result in human rights impacts, such as loss of land, harm to clean water, reduction of food, dislocation, outbreak of disease, and even loss of life. People cannot and will not accept these threats and are taking action NOW to protect themselves and their families, communities, and future generations.

Thank you to all the organizations and individuals involved in these climate-related legal efforts around the world. You can connect with these efforts by clicking on the links in the descriptions in the photo slideshow below.

Will you join us?

We’re asking you, our supporters, to symbolically #RiseAbove climate injustice by supporting the heroes that are seeking to hold governments and the fossil fuel industry accountable for climate inaction. You can do this by sharing a jump shot photo with a message of solidarity and hope for the people fighting for the right to a stable climate and healthy environment is protected!

By doing this, you will be thanking movement builders involved in ongoing legal challenges for inspiring us all to #RiseAbove and act on climate.

Here's some hints to take a fantastic jump shot:
1.Write your message of hope & support or just the hashtag #RiseAbove on cardboard or paper;
2. Hold your cardboard and ask a friend to take a jump shot of you;
3. Upload it to your Twitter account, Instagram or favorite social site with the hashtag: #RiseAbove.

Key People-Powered legal actions related to climate change

Through their courageous leadership, these people are boldly and peacefully demanding action from Big Polluters and laggard Governments to safeguard our human rights to a stable climate and healthy environment.

Thank you to all the organizations and individuals involved in these legal efforts around the world. You can connect with these efforts by clicking on the links in the descriptions in the photo slideshow below.

  • Netherlands. Nearly 900 citizens with the Urgenda Foundation filed a climate case against the Dutch government. In 2015 they won, forcing the government to make more stringent greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 2020. While the government is appealing the verdict, it has committed to complying with it in the interim and will be closing coal-fired power stations.

  • Canada. The Inuit community of Clyde River had its case heard before the Supreme Court of Canada, demanding that the permits issued by the National Energy Board in 2014 to conduct seismic exploration for oil and gas in Baffin Bay and Davis Strait be cancelled. Clyde River argues that seismic blasting is a known and often fatal threat to marine mammals and further impacts Inuit hunting, their way of life, and food security. These permits were granted without adequate consultation or consent from Inuit, which is a violation of their rights as Indigenous Peoples.

  • United States. 21 youth from the United States, with the support of Our Children’s Trust, are charging ahead with their federal constitutional case seeking the adoption of a national science-based Climate Recovery Plan. The young people allege that the U.S. government has known for decades about catastrophic climate change, but has failed to act to protect the youth. They argue this is a violation of the youth’s constitutional rights. Three fossil fuel trade associations are also named defendants in the case. In November 2016, a federal judge denied the U.S. government and fossil fuel industry’s motions to dismiss the youth’s case. According to Our Children’s Trust, “[t]he decision means that the youth, age 9 to 20 and from all over the U.S., now have standing because their rights are at stake, and now their case is headed to trial.”

  • Philippines. Filipino disaster survivors and other brave individuals, along with 14 NGOs including Greenpeace Southeast Asia-Philippines, triggered a first-ever national investigation into the responsibility of fossil fuel companies for human rights impacts resulting from climate change. The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines launched an investigation into the responsibility of carbon producers for human rights impacts resulting from climate change in December 2015, during the historic Paris climate summit. The Commission requested the companies to respond to the Petition by the end of September 2016 and now it is moving forward with a national inquiry, which carries significant weight since such procedures are only rarely used for matters of great importance to the country and citizens. The Petitioners are calling for public hearings to be held in early 2017.

  • Germany. A Peruvian farmer, Saúl Luciano Lliuya, has sued a German fossil producer and utility - RWE - in Germany. He is asking for RWE to pay its share (based on the company’s contribution of greenhouse gases) of the costs to prevent further harm to his property from glacial flooding. On December 15, 2016, the Regional Court of Essen will announce whether the farmer’s legal challenge will proceed to evidentiary phase of the case.

  • Norway. Young people from the NGO Nature & Youth, and Greenpeace Nordic filed a lawsuit against the government for opening up 40 new blocks for oil and gas drilling in the Barents Sea. They are challenging a decision by the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy to offer 13 different companies licenses for exploratory drilling and oil and gas extraction. The plaintiffs allege that the licenses infringe on the Norwegian constitutional right to a healthy environment for current and future generations, they contravene the goals of the Paris Agreement and constitute a breach of other international environmental and human rights law obligations.

  • Switzerland. In Switzerland, KlimaSeniorinnen (Senior Women for Climate Protection), representing more than 450 women aged 65 and over, sent a formal legal complaint to the Swiss Government and three administrative bodies responsible for national climate policies, marking the first step in litigation. The seniors are challenging the government’s climate policies, highlighting shortfalls that are putting their lives and future generations at risk. The case will proceed to court if the government fails to comply with their demands.

  • Corporate Accountability
  • Government Accountability

Government Accountability

*click on an item to show details.

21 youth from the United States, with the support of Our Children’s Trust, are charging ahead with their federal constitutional case seeking the adoption of a national science-based Climate Recovery Plan. The young people allege that the U.S. government has known for decades about catastrophic climate change, but has failed to action to protect the youth. They argue this is a violation of the youth’s constitutional rights. Three fossil fuel trade associations are also named defendants in the case. In November 2016, a federal judge denied the U.S. government and fossil fuel industry’s motions to dismiss the youth’s case. According to Our Children’s Trust, “[t]he decision means that the youth, age 9 to 20 and from all over the U.S., now have standing because their rights are at stake, and now their case is headed to trial.”

Two youth organisations, PUSH (Powershift) Sweden and Fältbiologerna, and 156 individual plaintiffs, filed a lawsuit against the Swedish state, accusing it of negligence and breaching  its duty of care by failing to pursue its domestic and internationally agreed climate objectives. The plaintiffs contend that the government’s approval of Vattenfall´s (a state-owned company) request to sell off its dirty lignite assets to a Czech company, could lead to 1.2 billion tonnes of additional CO2 being released into the atmosphere when the coal is burned. They estimate that this is equivalent to 22 years of Sweden's annual emissions as an entire country.

In April 2016, 7-year old girl, Rabab Ali, through her father, filed a case against the Federation of Pakistan and the Province of Sindh in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. It is a constitutional claim alleging that through the exploitation of fossil fuels, particularly coal, the government has violated the Public Trust Doctrine and the youngest generation's fundamental constitutional rights to life, liberty, property, human dignity, information and equal protection of the law. The case is still pending.

Inspired by the Dutch climate case, the Belgian Klimaatzaak (literally “climate case”) campaign has signed up 9,000 citizens as co-plaintiffs. They are calling for a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2020. The case has been held up in a procedural issue regarding the language of the case and is now pending before the Supreme Court.

A farmer filed a case challenging the government of Pakistan’s inaction and delay in implementing the National Climate Change Policy. He claimed that failing to address vulnerabilities associated with climate change violates Pakistanis’ fundamental constitutional rights to life and dignity. The Lahore High Court Green Bench ruled in favour of the farmer and convened a Climate Change Commission, requiring each government ministry to submit regular reports to the Court on progress.

In Switzerland, KlimaSeniorinnen (Senior Women for Climate Protection), representing more than 450 women aged 65 and over, sent a formal legal complaint to the Swiss Government and three administrative bodies responsible for national climate policies, marking the first step in litigation. The seniors are challenging the government’s climate policies, highlighting shortfalls that are putting their lives and future generations at risk. The case will proceed to court if the government fails to comply with their demands.

Young people from the NGO Nature & Youth, and Greenpeace Nordic filed a lawsuit against the government for opening up 40 new blocks for oil and gas drilling in the Barents Sea. They are challenging a decision by the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy to offer 13 different companies licenses for exploratory drilling and oil and gas extraction. The plaintiffs allege that the licenses infringe on the Norwegian constitutional right to a healthy environment for current and future generations, they contravene the goals of the Paris Agreement and constitute a breach of other international environmental and human rights law obligations.

The Inuit community of Clyde River had its case heard before the Supreme Court of Canada, demanding that the permits issued by the National Energy Board in 2014 to conduct seismic exploration for oil and gas in Baffin Bay and Davis Strait be cancelled. Clyde River argues that seismic blasting is a known and often fatal threat to marine mammals and further impacts Inuit hunting, their way of life, and food security. These permits were granted without adequate consultation or consent from Inuit, which is a violation of their rights as Indigenous Peoples.

Nearly 900 citizens with the Urgenda Foundation filed a climate case against the Dutch government. In 2015 they won, forcing the government to make more stringent greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 2020. While the government is appealing the verdict, it has committed to complying with it in the interim and will be closing coal-fired power stations.

Corporate Accountability

*click on an item to show details.

Conservation Law Foundation, an NGO that fights for clean air, clean water, and clean energy on behalf of communities in New England in the United States, notified Exxon that it would sue the company for pollutants that are leaking out of one of the company’s shoreline terminals. They also allege that Exxon has not adequately prepared the terminal in the event of flooding from rising sea levels or a catastrophic storm, which Exxon had knowledge would happen. The case was filed in September 2016 in a U.S. District Court in Boston, Massachusetts.

Filipino disaster survivors and other brave individuals, along with 14 NGOs including Greenpeace Southeast Asia-Philippines, triggered a first-ever national investigation into the responsibility of fossil fuel companies for human rights impacts resulting from climate change. The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines launched an investigation into the responsibility of carbon producers for human rights impacts resulting from climate change in December 2015, during the historic Paris climate summit. The Commission requested the companies to respond to the Petition by the end of September 2016 and now it is moving forward with a national inquiry, which carries significant weight since such procedures are only rarely used for matters of great importance to the country and citizens. The Petitioners are calling for public hearings to be held in early 2017.

ClientEarth, a legal NGO committed to securing a healthy planet, alerted the Financial Reporting Council (FRC, the UK’s independent financial regulator, responsible for corporate governance oversight) to breaches in reporting by two oil and gas companies (Cairn and SOCO) alleging that they failed to adequately disclose climate change risks. The matter is now in the hands of the FRC. It can issue a Committee reference, Press Notice, or apply for a court order compelling the company to re-issue the annual report (and the costs of this can be recoverable from the companies’ directors personally).

A Peruvian farmer, Saúl Luciano Lliuya, has sued a German fossil producer and utility - RWE - in Germany. He is asking for RWE to pay its share (based on the company’s contribution of greenhouse gases) of the costs to prevent further harm to his property from glacial flooding. On December 15, 2016, the Regional Court of Essen will announce whether the farmer’s legal challenge will proceed to evidentiary phase of the case.

Exxon knew about climate change almost four decades ago and chose to spread climate denial over taking action. The Attorneys General of New York and Massachusetts have launched investigations to determine whether Exxon misled the public, consumers, and investors about the risks of climate change. In addition, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC - the US financial regulator) is investigating whether Exxon committed accounting violations in disclosures about its reserves.

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