Six young people against 33 countries: a first victory for the climate

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In September 2020, six young people aged 8 to 21 lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights against 33 countries for having "failed to do their part to avoid a climate catastrophe". Three months later, we learned that their request had been accepted. Where are we now in the fight against climate change?

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In September 2020, six young people aged 8 to 21 lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against 33 countries for having "failed to do their part to avoid a climate catastrophe". Three months later, we learn that their request has been accepted and that all member states of the European Union as well as the United Kingdom, Norway, Turkey and Russia will have to prove that they are really taking action in favor of climate.

In fact, these six young Portuguese ask the ECHR to oblige these countries to respect their commitment to limit the rise in the temperature of the planet to 1.5 ° C, as understood in the Paris agreement.

The young people who have therefore filed a complaint against 33 countries want to hold them responsible for fueling the climate crisis and force them to take urgent measures to further reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. 

More and more heat records are being recorded all over the world. For example, Portugal just experienced its hottest July in 90 years. In Quebec, on May 27, 2020, Montreal broke the record for the hottest temperature ever recorded for the months of May, June and July with a mercury that climbed to 36 ° C.

“It terrifies me to know that the record heat waves we have endured are just the beginning. With so little time to act, we must do everything in our power to force governments to protect us properly ”, testifies Catarina Mota, one of the young adults involved. 

Le Monde, September 3, 2020

The 33 targeted countries will now have to defend themselves. The process will be very long, but if young people win, different governments could be forced to do a lot more to fight climate change.

This is not the first time that the path of justice has been used by young people in the fight against climate change. They are taking more and more place in the offensive that is being waged, knowing more than anyone that they represent the future and that they will have to assume the consequences of the announced changes.

“Many young people have also chosen the path of justice to make themselves heard. Legal proceedings have been filed in the USA, in Belgium and in the Nederlands. Young Quebecers have in turn announced that they want to sue the Government of Canada for its inaction in the fight against climate change: the organization ENvironnement JEUnesse filed in november a request for authorization to the Superior Court of Quebec for a class action, on behalf of all young Quebecers aged 35 and under. "

Agence Science-Presse, January 16, 2019

The environmental issues in question here are closely linked to the social, legal, political and above all economic aspects of our society:

"In terms of climate, the changes will have to be major if we want global warming to not exceed 2 degrees during this century, but it will also require more substantial financial investments," reported a recent 400-page report by the Intergovernmental Group on the climate change (IPCC). "

Agence Science-Presse, November 28, 2018



Disciplines and levels targeted

- Science and technology (lower secondary)

  • Earth and Space: Climate Change

- Ethics and religious culture (2nd cycle of secondary)

  • Reflecting on ethical questions: the future of humanity

Targeted dimensions of digital competence

  • Act as an ethical citizen in the digital age
  • Communicating via digital technology
  • Developing and mobilizing information literacy
  • Producing content with digital

Suggested digital tools

  • Edpuzzle
  • LearningApps
  • Flipgrid

Educational intention of the guide

The following activities will allow students to become aware of the climate emergency by relying, among other things, on scientific and technological principles. They will also be able to express themselves on how they foresee the future of humanity.

Objectives of the activities

  • Understanding the magnitude and urgency of climate change.
  • Understand the causes and consequences of climate change.
  • Express yourself on how we see the future of humanity and on what impacts we can have in relation to the fight against climate change

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