An International Court on Environmental Law?

Today, I sat in on Climate Justice and sustainable development: Intensifying the dialogue between EU, India and China.

The IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute made a case for a climate community. Key moves would include the EU scaling up finance, reducing administrative costs, and reducing competitive distortion. India’s problems include too many small entities and lack of data.

Yet, India has introduced some sound domestic policy initiatives that, if successfully implemented, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The EU can significantly help India implement these initiatives, though the existing financial mechanisms are inadequate.

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One panelist said, “We’ve got to be able to recognize india’s prime concern is still that Indian people are in poverty. Climate change is going to make this an increasingly more complex project.”

The panel also made a case for having an International Court for the Environment (ICE) because environmental problems are always international in their dimension.

They quoted Sir Robert Jennings, Former ICJ President:

“It is a trite observation that environmental problems, although they closely affect municipal laws, are essentially international; and that the main structure of control can therebefore be no other than that of international law.”

Other courts, such as the International Court of Justice (which only has access to the state), the International Criminal Court (exclusively criminal jurisdiction and not focused on the environment), are not capable of processing international environmental law cases, the panel defended.

After talking to people like Becky at the Yale reception, who organizes lawyers to create a global network of legal counsel for any COP15 delegation, and after meeting George Collins and Paul Beaton, both Yale Law and School of Forestry Students, it seems that ICE may not be too far off the horizon…


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