Judging Climate Change: The Role of the Judiciary in the Fight Against Climate Change

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This paper aims to determine what the proper role of the judiciary should be in developing climate change policy. It does so in light of the sometimes contentious relationship between ‘activist’ or ‘progressive’ judges and the doctrine of separation of powers. This relationship has a long history by which much of human rights law has been shaped. The paper analyses the court judgments in the cases of Urgenda v Kingdom of the Netherlands, Juliana v United States, and Friends of the Irish Environment v Ireland in order to identify how different legal systems view this relationship. The paper also considers the upcoming climate case in the Supreme Court of Norway. In particular, the question is asked whether the separation of powers in Europe and the United States is a doctrine mandating systems of power balance rather than of strict separation.
Drawing on the argumentation from the Urgenda judgment, the paper concludes that the protection and development of human rights should be the main concern in climate change litigation. The judiciary should accordingly take an important role in climate change policy-making in order for the state to comply with its duty to instigate emission limits.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOslo Law Review
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)168-185
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2020

ID: 284900688