Quantcast

7-Year-Old Files Climate Change Lawsuit with the Supreme Court of Pakistan

A 7-year-old girl, Rabab Ali, through her father and pro bono environmental attorney Qazi Ali Athar, and on behalf of all the Pakistani people, filed a climate change lawsuit Tuesday against the Federation of Pakistan and the Province of Sindh in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The Constitution Petition asserts that, through the exploitation and continued promotion of fossil fuels, in particular dirty coal, the Pakistan and Sindh governments have violated the Public Trust Doctrine and the youngest generation's fundamental constitutional rights to life, liberty, property, human dignity, information and equal protection of the law.

“The protection of these inalienable and fundamental rights is essential if we are to have any chance of leaving our children and future generations with a stable climate system and environment capable of sustaining human life," said Qazi Ali Athar, public interest environmental attorney representing his daughter as youth petitioner in the case.

“Pakistan is rich in renewable energy resources such as solar and wind, more than enough to meet the energy needs of current and future generations of Pakistanis. Yet the federal and provincial governments of Pakistan, along with the vested interests in the country and the region, are exploiting Pakistan's most environmentally degrading and carbon intensive fuels—low-grade coal from the Thar Coal Reserves—in violation of the Pakistani people's constitutionally protected fundamental rights."

The petition details how the Pakistan government has acknowledged the particular vulnerability of Pakistanis to the effects of climate change, including the increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts, flooding and cyclones. The government has also recognized, in the National Climate Change Policy (NCCP) and the Framework for Implementation of Climate Change Policy (Framework), Pakistan's “role as a responsible member of the global community in combating climate change ... giving due importance to mitigation efforts."

And in Pakistan's Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) submitted in December 2015 prior to the climate talks in Paris, the government admitted, “Potential for mitigation exists in all sectors of [Pakistan's] economy" and made the commitment that “Pakistan will promote and support low-carbon, climate resilient development." Yet, completely antithetical to these statements and in violation of the fundamental rights of the people of Pakistan, the government, in its own climate change policy documents and Pakistan's INDC, promotes and plans for a significant increase in Pakistan's CO2 emissions through the exploitation of large untapped low-grade coal reserves.

Ali hopes that by bringing this petition, her government will start doing its share “as a responsible member of the global community" in reducing atmospheric CO2 and achieving global climate stabilization and that the Supreme Court will order the government to develop and implement science-based mitigation actions, tiered to achieving such a goal, as part of the NCCP, Framework and INDC. The petition includes the prescription for achieving global climate stabilization from the renowned climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen, which says that to restore a stable climate system, the dangerous levels of CO2 currently in our atmosphere must be reduced to below the maximum safe level—350 ppm atmospheric CO2—by the year 2100.

“Last year, to celebrate 'World Earth Day,' I pledged allegiance to the Earth and to the flora, fauna and human life that it supports, with safe air, water and soil, economic justice, equal rights and peace for all," said Youth Petitioner Ali. “I want my government to take a similar pledge, by creating a plan that will allow me and future generations a safe environment to grow up in."

“Youth are rising up globally and taking their governments to court to seek protection of their inalienable rights to a stable climate system," said Julia Olson, executive director for the nonprofit organization Our Children's Trust and lead counsel on a climate lawsuit brought by 21 young people against the U.S. government. “This case filed today in Pakistan builds on similar cases brought by young people in Uganda, Ukraine and the U.S. Our Children's Trust is working in partnership with young people around the world to elevate their voices and provide them with legal and scientific support, including youth who are mobilizing in India, Canada, France, England, Australia and elsewhere. This youth legal movement is growing."

“This bold action is indeed evidence of a global movement of citizens demanding science-based climate action from their governments, which the Paris agreement did not achieve," said Roger Cox, attorney for URGENDA who recently secured a court order in the Netherlands ordering the Dutch government to decrease emissions. “Like the court found in our Dutch case, governments have a duty to safeguard the climate for present and future generations. Valuable legal precedents are being set that will hopefully become an avalanche of successful climate change court cases against governments worldwide. In the absence of sufficient political action to tackle the climate crisis, courts have the authority and the constitutional duty to prevent and protect society from climate change related damages, casualties and infringements of fundamental rights and civil liberties. What courts do in these cases will have implications for the rest of the world and for the degree of climate change we will all face in the years to come."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

6 Colorado Teenagers File Appeal in Fracking and Climate Lawsuit

Food Not Bullets: Hunger Pangs of Starving Farmers Met by a Barrage of Bullets

Surgeon General's Warning: We Must Act on Climate

Mark Ruffalo: TPP Would Fuel Climate Chaos and Empower Corporate Polluters

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A drilling rig in a Wyoming natural gas field. William Campbell / Corbis via Getty Images

A U.S. federal judge temporarily blocked oil and gas drilling on 300,000 acres of federal leases in Wyoming Tuesday, arguing that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) "did not sufficiently consider climate change" when auctioning off the land, The Washington Post reported.

Read More Show Less
Mizina / iStock / Getty Images

By Ryan Raman, MS, RD

Oats are widely regarded as one of the healthiest grains you can eat, as they're packed with many important vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
JPMorgan Chase building in New York City. Ben Sutherland / CC BY 2.0

By Sharon Kelly

A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.

Read More Show Less
Sriram Madhusoodanan of Corporate Accountability speaking on conflict of interest demand of the People's Demands at a defining action launching the Demands at COP24. Corporate Accountability

By Patti Lynn

2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."

Read More Show Less
The head of England's Environment Agency has urged people to stop watering their lawns as a climate-induced water shortage looms. Pexels

England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

By Jessica Corbett

A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.

Read More Show Less
A flock of parrots in Telegraph Hill, San Francisco. ~dgies / Flickr

By Madison Dapcevich

Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.

Read More Show Less
Fire burns in the North Santiam State Recreational Area on March 19. Oregon Department of Forestry

An early-season wildfire near Lyons, Oregon burned 60 acres and forced dozens of homes to evacuate Tuesday evening, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) said, as KTVZ reported.

The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.

Read More Show Less