International agreements, especially those relating to the climate, create an obligatory frame of reference for all states that are parties to them. Inaction and failure to observe these commitments are obvious to everyone. The huge demonstrations, the movements of young people asserting their right to a sustainable future, scientific reports warning of catastrophic consequences, appeals from academic communities: all of these have done little good. The world of politics is resistant and in many cases deaf to such appeals. Who is responsible for this failure to act? Governments and politicians come and go, but no one takes responsibility for the choices that lead to the inaction that continues today.
Some organizations and individuals have analysed the problems around responsibility: we have the data on a social and environmental crisis that limits normal and generally recognized human rights (to life, health, work, a future); we know the causes of this crisis; solutions have been suggested by scientifically proven research and studies. So if a State has not taken the necessary decisions to halt the deterioration, then its government is legally as well as politically responsible.
Furthermore, the climate crisis is not “democratic”, it does not affect everyone in the same way. The poor will suffer the most serious consequences. Air, water, soil, vegetation will no longer be “common goods”, but will be hoarded by the strongest. This will apply not only to States (just compare Holland and Bangladesh), but also within populations of the same country (e.g. Venice and Taranto).
Another point: it will be future generations who have to pay most of the price for our inaction over the past almost forty years. This is what the young people of Fridays For Future are shouting to the rooftops about.
For several years now organizations and individuals have been taking legal action, exposing the inaction of States but also the behaviour of multinationals and private businesses. The Netherlands, France, Ireland, Belgium and Switzerland have led the way in Europe. Now it is the turn of Italy, with the campaign “The Last Judgment, Invert the Process“. Many organizations have committed themselves to taking the Italian State to court for “failing to take action to mitigate climate change leading to the violation of some basic human rights”. Alongside the legal action is a campaign to raise awareness to support and promote the initiative.
The starting point is consideration of confirmed scientific data about which there can be no “discussion”, data that is known to States and that concerns their decision making at both national and international level. If the internationally agreed timescales, rules and regulations are not respected then legal action will be brought. It is not a case just of observance of the parameters, but also of the necessary information, on certain and scientifically proven data. The ultimate aim remains that of creating policies that are more attuned to safeguarding the environment and future generations, a responsibility that falls on politicians at every level.