Imagine a court with international jurisdiction to set right the wrongs of “environmental injustice.” Sound pretty far out there? According to the Daily Telegraph, a group of British lawyers don’t think so.
The first role of the new body would be to enforce international agreements on cutting greenhouse gas emissions set to be agreed next year.
But the court would also fine countries or companies that fail to protect endangered species or degrade the natural environment and enforce the “right to a healthy environment”.
The idea is apparently to give teeth to tough new binding targets for carbon dioxide emissions, which are being talked about this week and next at a UN Climate Change Conference in Poland. Never mind that the UN talks are being held just as struggling economies in Europe are rebelling against their own tough new caps under the EU emissions trading system.The Wall Street Journal reported on the international court idea when it was proposed by Stephen Hockman, a UK high court judge, in a guest column to the Guardian back in August.The proposal, as the WSJ noted then, seems “designed to strike exactly the wrong chord in both the U.S. and China.” And that chord couldn’t be struck again at a more convenient hour, serving as a reminder to those delegations taking part in the climate talks in Poznan that their negotiating partners today, could become their overlords tomorrow.
Mr. Bell is a U.S. Fulbright Fellow to Austria, and MPA student at Seattle University.