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The World Lawyers’ Pledge on Climate Action

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We, the undersigned, as concerned members of the legal community, commit ourselves to taking action against climate change. To this end, we will take personal and institutional responsibility, to the best of our abilities and within our respective fields of activity and expertise. We will cultivate a heightened awareness of the relevance of our activities to climate change and vice versa, and seek to integrate, address, and mitigate climate concerns throughout our professional life. We call upon the global legal community—including practicing lawyers, judges, academics, civil servants, law students, lawmakers, and all others working in and with the law—to join us in this vital endeavour. Together, we can initiate, foster, and sustain the change necessary to avert climate catastrophe, and transition our societies and laws towards a sustainable future.

As legal educators, we can infuse climate change issues into the various topics we teach. We commit ourselves to make visible the relevant connections between climate change and the legal fields, norms, and doctrines that are the subjects of our courses and lectures. We will discuss substantive linkages, procedural barriers and opportunities, and systemic conflicts and synergies of climate concerns within all areas of law. Through our work as legal educators, we influence and impact the next generations of lawyers. It is therefore our particular responsibility to educate law students in a manner that prepares and enables them, in this new era of climate emergency, to effectively use the tools that the law provides. Reciprocally, as law students, we are in a position to stimulate and demand engagement with climate change issues throughout and beyond our legal education. On an institutional level, all of us will work to ensure that law school curricula are updated to include comprehensive coverage of environmental issues, in order to train and sensitise students for a future in legal practice or scholarship that is better equipped to face and tackle the climate crisis.

As legal practitioners, we will integrate climate considerations throughout our contentious and non-contentious work. In our role as advisors and draftspersons, we will seek to foster full compliance with the letter and the spirit of climate-protective laws. We will accompany, support, and represent concerned citizens, climate activists, indigenous peoples, NGOs, and others, in their pursuit of climate justice. In doing so, we will respect the agency of the individuals and communities we work with. Where possible and appropriate, we will use our skills and positions to bring actionable climate cases before courts, and will pursue or support strategic climate litigation. In parallel, we choose to refrain from providing legal advice to individuals or corporate actors who seek to circumvent or undermine meaningful climate action or avoid climate responsibility, where that is compatible with our professional standards. On an institutional level, we will work to ensure that our professional associations attend to and incorporate climate issues, and establish climate action networks to better organise our collaborative efforts in litigating and supporting climate action across the full range of fora.

As judges and arbitrators, we reaffirm our commitment to fulfilling our functions with a twin respect both for the independence and impartiality that underpins trust in judicial processes, and respect for the rule of law. Within the bounds of good judicial practice, respect for the separation of powers, and the canons of legal interpretation, we will furnish and adopt climate-friendly interpretations of legal norms and instruments. We will consider the broad and intersecting network of laws that bear upon issues of climate change and climate justice, and will take into account and give judicial effect to binding climate goals where relevant to the cases we decide. We have an essential role in upholding human rights—including in relation to environmental harms—and we will perform our critical function of holding governments and public authorities accountable for their inaction and failures in fighting climate change. We will act with integrity and judicial courage, conscious always of the social role of the law and its consequences.

As lawmakers and civil servants, we will advocate and work—within and beyond the political institutions in which we serve—for achieving the goal of just transition to a climate-neutral and sustainable society. We will ensure that our national parliaments, regional bodies, and local authorities commit to and implement ambitious climate goals. As lawmakers, we will mobilise the political courage and support necessary to enact the strict measures that are needed to reduce greenhouse gases and reach climate neutrality. We are committed to representing the long-term interests of our constituents (present and future generations) by supporting systemic transitions away from fossil fuels and animal agriculture, and will resist pressures from powerful industry lobbies. As civil servants, we will implement laws and policy decisions in ways that consider climate issues and give the best possible concrete effects to abstract climate goals. All of us will ensure that the climate implications of legislation, policy decisions, and enforcement—in all fields—are heard, understood, and taken into account. We will have regard to the intersecting factors which place some communities in situations of particular vulnerability to climate change, and will seek to ensure that their interests, needs, and voices are heard in our debates.

As legal scholars, we can serve a crucial bridging role in facilitating the translation of abstract climate goals into concrete legal formulation, implementation, and enforcement. We are in a position to think through the problems posed by climate change and its adverse effects in all areas of law, and to frame adequate legal responses to address climate issues. Importantly, we can help to develop the conceptual and doctrinal vocabulary and tools that enable advocates, lawmakers, civil servants, or judges to realise and operationalise more ambitious climate policies in legal practice. As researchers and scholars, we commit to highlighting and integrating climate concerns in our scholarly and research activities in all areas of law, and to make the relevant work accessible to everyone. On an institutional level, we will push for climate action and responsibility within our scholarly networks and associations, and will seek to ensure that our universities and research institutions have, and act in accordance with, ambitious climate action plans.

Lastly, although the emphasis must first and foremost be placed on the systemic transitions that are needed to achieve a just transition to climate neutrality, structural changes must be supplemented by individual responsibility. We commit to organising our own conduct in the most climate-neutral way possible. We commit to reducing the climate impacts of our professional activities, our buildings and offices, and other matters associated with our professional lives, and to persuade colleagues, co-workers, employers, and employees to join us in this effort. Among other measures, we will reduce the impact of our events by avoiding unnecessary air travel wherever possible, facilitating virtual attendance at meetings, and switching to plant-based catering; utilise renewable energy sources; and—while prioritising emissions reductions at source—make subsidiary use of carbon offsetting and carbon capture technologies where appropriate to further reduce the climate impact of our activities. We will continually improve our awareness of climate concerns, and will actively re-examine our ways of working in order to identify opportunities to reduce our carbon footprint to a necessary minimum. We will encourage our institutions to mandate and incentivise climate-friendly behaviours, to set ambitious goals for the amelioration of our climate and other environmental impacts, and to report transparently on progress towards those goals.

Join us and sign the Pledge

We, the undersigned, firmly believe that together—and by mobilising the tools of our shared vocation—we can make a difference. This requires all of us to recognise and practice individual as well as institutional responsibility for the fate of planet earth, our shared and only home.

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Most recent signatories

545Mr. Nicola Benz SwitzerlandMLL Meyerlustenberger Lachenal Froriep
544Mr. David Sullivan United States
543Prof. Sergio Roberto Rocamora Alvarez ArgentinaUniversidad de Congreso
542Mr. María Valentina Erice ArgentinaInstituto de Agua y Ambiente de la Universidad de Mendoza
541Dr. Denise Wohlwend SwitzerlandAttorney-at-law in Zurich
540Mr. Thea Schlütermann GermanyUni Münster / Uni Toulouse Capitole
539Mr. Ulrich Stege ItalyInternational University College of Turin
538Ms. Anna-Mira Brandau Germany
537Mr. DESIRE AHANHANZO NetherlandsINTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE
536Mr. Raphael Chaskalson United Kingdom
535Ms. Shubhangi Agarwalla ??
534Mr. Peter Pistorius ??Pistorius & Hippmann Rechtsanwälte in PartGmbB
533Mr. Lukas Mezger GermanyUNVERZAGT Rechtsanwälte
532Mr. Sejong Youn South KoreaSolutions for Our Climate
531Mr. Konstanze Jarvers GermanyMax Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law
530Mr. Santiago Garcia ColombiaYale University
529Mr. Warren Lavey United StatesUniversity of Illinois
528Ms. Shehana Gomez United KingdomCardiff University
527Mr. Suzanne Van Arsdale United StatesLegal Priorities Project
526Ms. Madeleine Sinclair United StatesInternational Service for Human Rights

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Who we are

The World Lawyers’ Pledge on Climate Action is an open letter to and on behalf of the worldwide legal community which aims to highlight the ways in which lawyers, of all kinds and in all fields of law, can contribute to the cause of climate action. The Pledge was drafted by Saskia Stucki, Guillaume Futhazar, and Tom Sparks with the input and assistance of many other lawyers worldwide. Here you can find more information about the coordination team.