Who decides whether a sustainable and just world is 'realistic' anyway?
Young people are not requesting justice. We are telling you that it is on its way.
5 hours in and I’m having doubts about whether this can last.
Train station coffee. 6am. Tiredness that makes the ground sway. Neon departure boards and 5% phone battery. Spotify playlists and bus-battered books. I say I’ll catch up on my work to-do list later, but before I can - I’m gone again.
I feel guilty. Is this fair on my clients? I feel stubborn to a fault. Should I just agree with everyone that I’ve made my point about flight-free travel and call it a day? Did this help the households struggling with the energy bills? Did it plant trees? No. I just sat here.
The next flight would save me 14 hours and a shred of my sanity. But it will not save me and it will not save you.
For that, I’m afraid, I must keep going. They do call it fighting for your values, not coasting along, after all. Should I sacrifice the life choices that most match a sustainable world, just because I find it hard? Put it back on the shelf of things I’ll do one day, eventually, when it’s more realistic.
Ah, but there’s the catch.
I’m not interested in being realistic. I am not interested in your parameters of what and what isn’t a feasible change to make. You say it is out of the question, but I don’t recall asking.
Because I am not asking you - politician, CEO, reader - for a fairer and more sustainable world. I am telling you that it is already here and you better make room for it. I am telling you that I will not take your planes, I will not accept oil that poisons villages, I will not tolerate another lie or false solution.
I am going the slow way. I am going there fast. I have not made my point until celebrities stop taking private jets. I have not made my point until we can barely move for rewilding and agroforestry projects. I have not made my point until the idea of having to choose between heating and eating is nonsense again.
I have not made my point until the path to a regenerative and just world is the only path.
7am. The bus is leaving and so am I.
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What’s Going On?
58% of human infectious diseases are worsened by the climate crisis.
Related: Why we must take climate action to prevent future pandemics.
The world can reach 100% renewable energy by or before 2050, 15 university research teams agree.
Useful: Directory of resources on how to support the renewable transition.
Six young adults take climate crisis to European Court of Human Rights.
Useful: What do we mean when we say the climate crisis is a human rights issue?
Africa is getting just 12% of the finance needed to adapt to climate change. Related: How Africa would use funding to adapt to the climate crisis.
Ukraine war and the climate crisis are sparking a global food system meltdown.
Useful: Here is how the Ukraine conflict and the climate are connected.
Shell & BP’s decarbonisation plans are far short of anything remotely effective.
Related: Here is how fossil fuel companies are trying to trick you with green promises.
Focus On: Human Rights & the Climate Crisis
Alexandra Vazquez-Mera speaks to Laure-Marin from World’s Youth for Climate Justice. Edited by Mehak Gupta.
My name is Laure-Marine and I have been working with the World Youth For Climate Justice (WY4CJ) as the European Front Coordinator for more than a year. I also just graduated from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland in International Law and Politics.
WY4CJ is a global campaign that wants to take climate change and human rights to the International Court of Justice to seek an Advisory Opinion* for climate and human rights justice.
*According to the United Nations (UN), “an advisory opinion is legal advice provided to the UN or a specialised agency by the International Court of Justice. Advisory Opinions are often an instrument of preventive diplomacy and help to keep the peace.”
An Advisory Opinion would help clarify the obligations of a country and their different policies related to climate change and human rights, and bind them in that country’s policies and actions in their own laws, and with other countries in their international relations.
What even is the International Court of Justice? Why does it matter what they do?
The International Court of Justice is a part of the United Nations that is supposed to be above all the other national and international courts. The main aim of the court is to settle disputes between States.
Their decisions and judgements are not legally binding, but have a very strong impact on the way national governments behave and on international policies.
Why is climate change a human right issue?
Let me give an example. The people of Vanuatu (a lower-middle income Pacific island state) live on islands that are going to disappear because of rising sea levels. These islands are where their ancestors have been working, living and forming a close-knit community for centuries. All of this is going to be underwater in 50-100 years, or even sooner.
It is very important to guarantee that people in countries like Vanuatu, who will experience the most serious and immediate impacts from the climate crisis, have continued access to housing, food, education, and other human rights that are supposed to be guaranteed under the UN Charter.
Island communities are among the most vulnerable. This has already happened in other places, where communities had to be displaced from their ancestral land because of adverse climate change impacts.
Does making climate action legally binding actually work? Won't governments just ignore it?
An Advisory Opinion won’t be legally binding on countries. Rather, it will gain international recognition because the link between human rights and climate change hasn’t been established fully in law yet.
It would be a first step on the ladder to show that all countries agree on the fact that climate change has terrible effects on human rights. It will highlight that states have obligations to secure protection of human rights for vulnerable communities of people in their climate action.
Which aspects of the campaign have you found more challenging?
WY4CJ is an international organisation, there’s people from all over the world working remotely as volunteers. The work requires a lot of coordination, optimism and good spirit from everyone that definitely is rewarding.
It is very hard to be heard and make things change. Sometimes we felt stuck. We felt that governments did not want to hear us, did not want to have meetings with us, or were simply not listening to us.
They were telling us ‘yes, it’s a good idea’ or ‘yes, it’s a good initiative’ but then there was nothing after that. No real action, no real speech or anything else.
What makes you feel motivated to keep going?
We have excellent advisors that worked on the UN's Non-Proliferation Treaty of Nuclear Weapons and they tell us their life stories. They have spent their entire lives working on their campaign to ban the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
They stayed motivated throughout, even when they had babies, they continued to campaign. Inspiring stories like these keep us going and I believe that in the end we are going to achieve our goal.
We are all inspired by someone, and for me that is Solomon Yeo, who is the campaign director of the youth-led organisation ‘Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate Change’. He says that an Advisory Opinion at the International Court of Justice is not going to solve climate change alone, no single action will.
What is required is an international community acting in concert, consistent with international law and the scientific consensus, mindful of the cost of inaction to the most vulnerable.
How can we help?
You can reach out to your local or national politicians and ask them to vote ‘yes’ at the UN General Assembly for an Advisory Opinion to be put in front of the International Court of Justice.
You can also go onto our website and join us to volunteer and sign up to our newsletter for a round-up of events, online seminars, and talks.
You can follow WY4CJ on Twitter and Instagram @wy4cj, and on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Save the Date!
Oh yes we’re back with another round of climate drinks. If you’re in Brussels (or really really committed to drinks), come by! Everyone welcome. Please RSVP on Eventbrite so we know how many people to expect.
So Now What Do I Do?
Remember our edition about the #GoodClothesFairPay campaign? Fashion Revolution are speaking later today @ 13.30 CEST at a panel event on holding companies accountable in fashion supply chains.
Tune into a series of online climate justice conversations with 350.org to learn how to be a more resilient activist.
What does climate justice have to do with colonialism? Catch up on this incredible Decolonising Futures series of webinars for a deep-dive.
TRY SOMETHING NEW
Apply to attend the European Youth Summit in Bilbao this September! Applications close 29 August.
Eastern Europeans: Apply for the *WSCHÓD Activist Camp in Poland by 26 August!
Submit your youth-led project to support the green transition in this new open call by the #EUTeens4Green project.
CHANGE THE SYSTEM
Support the #StopJackdaw campaign online or locally to end new fossil projects in the UK. Week of action ends 27 August!
Sign the European Citizens’ Initiative to ban fossil fuel advertising.
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Stay in the loop
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You're correct. You're correct about the only path people should take. You're correct about the choices open to us. Fortunately, you're correct that we have to fight take this path, because grave danger faces us if we refuse to fight towards taking the world on a sustainable path.