Youth Leaders Launch Legal Action for Right to Safe Climate
One of the sobering realities of climate change is that it disproportionately affects those who are the least to blame for causing it: the youth and future generations. Because of this reality, climate change is more than a scientific issue. It is, according to Brook Meakins, representative of the International Climate Legal Action Team, an issue of intergenerational justice and equity. On April 22, Meakins and other lawyers joined a convergence of youth leaders in the Philippines to help them take legal action and protect their right to a safe climate in the name of environmental justice.
The youth leaders gathered at Bantayan Island in the Philippines on Earth Day 2013. They filed legal actions in an effort to convince the national government towards meaningful effort in addressing climate change. They were joined by top Filipino lawyers Tony Oposa, Sig Fortun, Golly Ramos, Gen Tadaba, Beryl Desabelle, and Rica de Guzman among a team of young lawyers. International environmental lawyers Brook Meakins, Durwood Zaelke, John Boyd of the US, Selyna Pereis of Sri Lanka, and Stephen Leonard of Australia also supported the youth leaders.
Also Read: Teenagers For The Environment – are taking a stand as young leaders today – stating how teenagers impact the environment in a positive way.
One of the Filipino youth leaders’ ground level initiatives was the launch of the “Road Sharing Movement”. The movement calls on the Philippine government to change the country’s national road and transportation system. An estimated 2% of the Philippines’ population owns vehicles yet the remaining 98% are allotted no space on public roads. The proposed ordinance aims to change the situation by allotting at least half of the roads for pedestrians and bikers. The remaining half would remain for the use of motorized vehicles, alongside path walks and bicycle lanes. The transformation of major public road systems in the country would help towards reducing carbon and greenhouse gases emissions.
The core team of youth and lawyers is asking support for their petition Global Legal Campaign on Behalf of the Youth and Future Generations. The aim of the said petition is to use the power of the law in order to protect the climate and future of the next generation. The team’s legal actions ensure that governments and corporations are held accountable for their responsibility in protecting the climate. They are also held responsible for urgently reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid further harm to humans and the environment. The petition is available for signing at the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) site.
Aside from the ordinance, the team of youth leaders also sent out a Nationwide Notice to Sue regarding the failure of the Climate Change Commission (CCC) to pass and implement any policy against fossil fuel emissions from motorized vehicles. The CCC is the only policy-making body of the Philippine government whose responsibility is to coordinate, monitor and evaluate government plans and programs in relation to climate change. Yet since its establishment in 2009, the Filipino public has yet to see a successful policy from the CCC. Now the Filipino youth is calling the policy-making body to account.
Durwood Zaelke, Founder of the Center for International Environmental Law and Director of the International Network for Environmental Enforcement, congratulated the Filipino youth for once again showing the world the way of a peaceful revolution. This recalls to mind the People Power demonstrations during the Marcos regime in the country. Australian lawyer Steve Leonard, an expert on the impact of climate change effects on World Heritage sites, said that the youth’s involvement is of critical importance to ensure environmental treasures are protected for the next generation.
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