Climate Change and Environmental Rights Litigation at the European Court of Human Rights: A View from the Arctic

Stefan Kirchner
RA, Dosentti (Adj. Prof.), Dr. Stefan Kirchner, MJI, is University Researcher for Arctic Law, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland, and Adjunct Professor for Funda-mental and Human Rights at the same university. He is admitted to the bar in Germany, working in particular on matters concerning the European Convention on Human Rights. Email:; Phone: +358 40 48 44 001.

Law and Forensic Science, Volume 14 (2017/2).

Submitted: November 26, 2017.

The author declares there is no conflict of interest.

Abstract: Climate change is real. It is felt particularly severely in the Arctic and in mountainous areas. While efforts to limit the effects of climate change are underway on a global level, most notably with the 2015 Paris Accord, dama-ges are already suffered on the local level. Climate change affects in particu-lar communities which are closely connected to nature and which therefore are sensitive to change, such as indigenous communities. Climate change shatters the capacity for resilience and can threaten the very survival of communities. In recent years, litigation has emerged as a potential tool for attempts to recover some of the losses suffered due to climate change. In this text it will be shown that the European Court of Human Rights, although it has been slow in recognizing environmental rights, has the potential to ser-ve as an adequate forum for human rights-based climate change litigation.

Keywords: climate change, human rights, Litigation, indigenous peoples, Arctic

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