Obligations of States to Avert Climate Change
In the "Oslo Principles on Global Climate Change Obligations," a group of high-level lawyers and philosophers addresses obligations of States and enterprises to avert the critical level of climate change – irrespective of already existing obligations resulting from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change or a (potential) follow-up agreement to the Kyoto Protocol. The group argues that existing legal sources including human rights law, environmental law and tort law oblige states to take measures leading to drastic emissions reductions that ensure that the global temperature increase does not exceed pre-industrial temperatures by more than 2°C.
At an event organised by Bread for the World (Brot für die Welt) and the Ecologic Institute, Professor Thomas Pogge and co-author Professor Jaap Spier presented the "Oslo Principles". Dr. Karsten Sach (German Federal Ministry of the Environment) and Dr. Nils Meyer-Ohlendorf (Ecologic Institute) commented on the principles. In the following discussion, participants critically questioned in particular to what extent the “Oslo Principles” can in fact be derived from existing sources of law. The discussion brought to light that it is difficult to argue in a legally sound manner that the abstract Oslo principles can be derived from existing laws. However, all participants agreed insofar as concrete court decisions can, potentially, make an important contribution to greater climate protection.