(Washington, DC): As world leaders gather in Glasgow, Scotland, this week and next for COP26—the United Nations’ much anticipated climate summit—many are looking to the executive and legislative functions of government for solutions. But key to addressing the climate crisis, and one that is often overlooked, is the judiciary. Judges play an essential role when it comes to environmental and related justice matters. Since 1990, the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) has assisted more than 3,000 judges from 28 countries with education and resources on a wide range of topics. In the United States, ELI has already begun educating the judiciary on climate science. As a leading environmental law and policy institution, ELI will be promoting the rule of law in the environmental field at COP26 and engaging with others interested in internationalizing its judicial science curriculum.
“The climate crisis requires an ‘all of society’ approach where every angle must be considered and where all of us must be in a state of preparedness. For ELI, this begins with making sure legal stakeholder groups have the information they need to perform their roles,” explained ELI President Scott Fulton. “With a basic understanding of climate science, the judiciary will be able to make better decisions—decisions that ultimately impact everyone,” he added.
Rule of law depends on all participants in the climate field, from judges, government officials, NGOs, businesses and other GHG emitters, and communities. Of particular importance is that climate science is understood by all of these actors to ensure that actions and decisions are based on the best understanding of how the climate system works.
Among those from ELI that will be participating in COP26 are Scott Fulton (ELI President); John Pendergrass (Vice-President for Programs & Publications); Sandra Nichols Thiam (Associate Vice President, Research & Policy); Sarah Roth (Senior Manager, Climate Judiciary Project); and Arielle V. King (Environmental Justice Staff Attorney). ELI Visiting Scholar Dr. Paul A. Hanle, who leads ELI’s Climate Judiciary Project, will also be attending.
Included on ELI’s busy itinerary for COP 26 is “Using Science and the Law for Ensuring Accountability and Compliance with Climate Regimes,” a roundtable workshop that ELI is hosting on November 5 as part of Climate Law & Governance Day. On November 6, Scott Fulton will be speaking on Climate Change Legislation, Litigation, and the Rule of Law, as part of a half day event hosted by the University of Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance.
With its 50+ years of experience in developing and implementing environmental laws, policies, and institutions around the world, ELI is uniquely poised to address the threats posed by climate change. By engaging a broad range of stakeholders in research, capacity building, and technical and legal assistance, ELI works with businesses, nonprofit organizations, governments, academia, and other stakeholders to help mitigate the causes of climate change and strengthen our capacity to adapt.
ELI’s Land & Biodiversity Program, Ocean Program, Invasive Species Program, Industrial Agriculture Law and Policy Center, and International Waters Program are already developing tools and building capacity to respond to climate change. Through our climate and energy work, ELI is working to enhance the resilience of communities and ecosystems around the world and to ensure new energy sources can be exploited while protecting and enhancing ecosystem health. In particular, ELI programs:
- help enshrine countries’ Paris commitments into national policy and law;
- support international partners in advancing climate goals;
- build climate resilience;
- green our national energy transformation;
- integrate climate change into invasive species strategies;
- advance technologies for climate change;
- answer constitutional challenges to new climate change initiatives; and
- educate judges on climate science and impacts to enable them to effectively address the growing wave of climate cases.