A judge in The Netherlands ruled that Royal Dutch Shell owed Dutch residents a duty of care to reduce its carbon emissions. While the ruling is being appealed against, it poses the question of whether there is a new trend that links climate change to human rights.
In May, a German farmer issued proceedings against Volkswagen, claiming that the car manufacturer’s activities had a climate-related impact on his farm, his health — and his right to “greenhouse gas-related freedom”. This last limb derives from a 2021 constitutional court ruling that the German Climate Protection Act violated the civil liberties of claimants by not adequately protecting the natural foundations of life and animals. A decision is expected in September. Given that the UK is a signatory to the European convention, there is debate over whether the arguments used in the Dutch case could be applied in this country.