Could the Swedish state be held liable for human rights violations induced by climate change? / Mariam Carlsson Kanyama

A case study of Sweden with reference to the Dutch law suit Urgenda et al.

Abstract

The world is headed for irreversible climate change and the discrepancy between climate science and politics is nearly insurmountable. In the Netherlands, 900 claimants together with the non- governmental organization (NGO) Urgenda, have filed a law suit against the Dutch state for neglecting to take measures to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. One of the claims of Urgenda et al is that human rights violations within the Netherlands will take place as a result of this negligence.

This study investigates the possibilities of suing the Swedish state for failing to take adequate measures to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.

The first part of the study reviews Urgenda et al and human rights instruments of particular interest to climate change. The second part of the study focuses on Swedish circumstances in light of the legal claims in Urgenda et al. A discussion of the legal avenues forward concludes the study.

It is clear that framing the adverse effects of climate change through human rights law is potentially a very effective way of demanding action on climate change.

The study concludes that there are several ways in which the Swedish state can be held liable for human rights violations induced by climate change. A law suit in Sweden could be centred on the activities of Vattenfall, climate finance and adaptation, or the rights of indigenous peoples.

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