On 26 July the Environmental Law Association of South Africa (ELA) and Institute for Marine and Environmental Law, UCT, in collaboration with the Global Environmental Law Centre, UWC, Hasselt University, and DIOS Global Minds Research Project, SDG-Governance, hosted its first in-person seminar of 2023 at the Oliver Tambo Moot Court, 5th Floor Kramer Law School, Middle Campus, UCT. The theme was ‘Comparative Perspectives on Climate Litigation – Insights from Europe and Africa’, and explored the following issues:
Courts around the world are increasingly engaged with disputes aimed at the protection of the climate system. In the adjudication of such disputes, courts are constrained to varying degrees, by the separation of powers doctrine. Yet there is no universal doctrine of separation of powers. In different legal systems around the world, and depending on legal culture and other factors, courts are empowered to be more or less activist when it comes to advancing climate justice, depending on how the doctrine is conceived.
Our panel of experts discussed how courts are responding to climate change in various jurisdictions with particular reference to the influence of the separation of powers doctrine. The seminar also featured a keynote address from Dr Matteo Fermeglia, Assistant Professor in International and European Environmental Law and Post-Doctoral Assistant at Hasselt University, Faculty of law titled “Trias climatica? A comparative analysis of climate change litigation and separation of powers in Europe”. Lastly, Prof. Anél Du Plessis, Chair in Urban Law and Sustainability Governance, Stellenbosch University introduced two new books containing important climate law scholarship.
The programme was as follows:
17h00 to 17h05
Welcome and introduction of keynote speaker
Kate Handley, Executive Director, Biodiversity Law Centre, ELA Executive Committee Member
17h05 to 17h30
“Trias climatica? A comparative analysis of climate change litigation and separation of powers in Europe”
Dr Matteo Fermeglia (Assistant Professor in International and European Environmental Law and Post-Doctoral Assistant at Hasselt University, Faculty of law)
Matteo Fermeglia is an Assistant Professor in International and European Environmental Law and Post-Doctoral Assistant at Hasselt University, Faculty of law, where he teaches European Environmental Law and European Climate & Energy Law. His main research interest lies in the interplay between international investment law and the climate change legal regime. In 2017, he was visiting scholar at Columbia Law School, where he collaborated with the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and the Columbia Centre for Sustainable Investments. He regularly (co-) authors internationally peer-reviewed journal articles in the field of environmental and climate law, and was awarded the Raúl Estrada-Oyuela Award for Emerging Scholars in Climate Law in 2017 by Lexxion publishers.
17h30 to 18h00
Panel discussion chaired by Kate Handley, “Comparative Insights on Climate Litigation” on the extent to which courts are permitted by the separation of powers doctrine to intervene in climate law and policymaking.
- Matteo Fermeglia, Assistant Professor, Hasselt University
- Allan Basajjasubi, Programme Officer, Defending Rights, Natural Justice
- Melanie Murcott, Associate Professor, Institute of Marine and Environmental Law; Vice Chairperson, ELA
- Angela van der Berg, Director, Global Environmental Law Centre; Senior Lecturer, UWC; Western Cape Sub-Committee, ELA
18h00 to 18h15
Questions from the floor
18h15 to 18h30
Celebrating new climate law scholarship: An introduction to Transformative Environmental Constitutionalism (2022), Melanie Murcott and Urban Climate Resilience (2022) Angela van der Berg and Jonathan Verschuuren (eds)
Anél Du Plessis, Chair in Urban Law and Sustainability Governance, Stellenbosch University
18h30 to 18h45