29 November 2023 – Youth climate activists are calling for immediate climate action before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Under the AO Let’s Go campaign, youth climate activists in the Americas, FACE Intergenerational Justice, and CHRE have prepared an amicus curiae brief to be submitted to the Inter-American Court, which will issue a historic Advisory Opinion on the Climate Emergency and Human Rights. The final English draft of the amicus brief can be accessed here. This brief (with minor updates) will be submitted to the Court before 18 December.

Trina Chiemi, one of the youth amicus organizers and co-chair at FACE, said “[t]his is a very powerful chance for young people to engage with the courts in a meaningful way, urge courts to hold polluters accountable, and enforce urgently needed policies that can keep 1.5°C alive. Waiting for climate action, or allowing a 2°C target, is not enough to meet the climate emergency, and young people and frontline communities need solutions today.”

The climate crisis is a human rights emergency. This is not just an ordinary harm – science tells us that the damages would be irreversible and that we are rapidly abandoning the safe and just corridor for life. The inaction or inadequate action to address the climate emergency disproportionately burdens young people’s rights. As the unequal effects of climate impacts are becoming clearer, youth are leading the way in demanding accountability.

Romina Picolotti, President of CHRE stated that “[f]ailing to act quickly on climate violates intergenerational justice and breaches international, regional, and domestic law. We are the last generation that can do something now to prevent surpassing the 1.5°C guardrail and keep the planet livable for current and future generations.”

Michael Hausfeld, who also represented Greta Thunberg and other youth climate activists in a complaint filed before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, reflects on the AO movement: “Advisory opinions can serve as a proper avenue to demand fast mitigation that can slow the rate of warming now to protect all of us before it is too late. As States have a duty of care to protect a life sustaining environment for their citizens, the AO movements before the International Court of Justice and Inter-American Court provide the correct forum to achieve climate justice.”

Therefore, our brief calls for:

  1. An urgent structural shift in policies that will allow society to live within a much tighter carbon budget, including an immediate moratorium on all new fossil fuel projects.
  2. Fast mitigation by cutting emissions of short-lived climate pollutants and preserving existing natural carbon sinks, including a mandatory global methane agreement and an immediate moratorium on the granting of permits that lead to deforestation.
  3. Centering climate justice in all policies, including protecting the rights of frontline communities and future generations, respecting Indigenous land rights, and protecting climate and environmental defenders.

The youth are watching, and we demand that the upcoming Inter-American Court of Human Rights advisory opinion calls for ambitious and concrete climate action to protect intergenerational climate justice and keep 1.5°C alive. This is an extraordinary opportunity in a crucial moment in history, and we invite other youth organizations to join our movement by endorsing our amicus brief or sharing your story on how you have been impacted by climate change.