The Networks of Human Rights and Climate Change

10 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2020

See all articles by Ole W. Pedersen

Ole W. Pedersen

Newcastle University - Newcastle Law School

Date Written: September 6, 2020


This paper probes the recent Urgenda decision by the Dutch Supreme Court from the perspective of the European Convention on Human Rights and the potential of the Convention to play a role in climate change litigation. The paper argues that much of the utility derived from relying on the ECHR in the context of climate change litigation comes from application of the Convention in the domestic legal setting. In finding against the Dutch government, the Supreme Court was thus able to furnish a series of expansive interpretations of the ECtHR's environmental rights case law. These interpretations are unlikely to carry much weight before the ECtHR itself. On this reading, the Urgenda decision drives home the potentially important relevance of pursuing climate change claims anchored in human rights claims in domestic legal settings and away from international tribunals, even if the impact of doing so remains contingent on local circumstances.

Keywords: human rights, climate change, adjudication, international law

JEL Classification: K32, K33

Suggested Citation

Pedersen, Ole Windahl, The Networks of Human Rights and Climate Change (September 6, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Ole Windahl Pedersen (Contact Author)

Newcastle University - Newcastle Law School ( email )

21-24 Windsor Terrace
Newcastle upon Tyne, England NE1 7RU
United Kingdom


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