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  • Environmental activists are on the news a lot,

  • but are they making a real difference?

  • We'll show you whether the law supports their cause.

  • She's the climate superstar,

  • but what has Greta Thunberg actually achieved?

  • And... the elderly women taking their government to court

  • to protect the environment.

  • She seems to have made more difference than anyone ever before:

  • Greta Thunberg has made people more aware of the climate crisis

  • and got thousands of young people to protest.

  • But how can that support become legal change?

  • It wasn't a big start:

  • a single fifteen-year-old girl sitting in the street.

  • But Greta's school strike, outside the Swedish Parliament,

  • soon caught people's attention.

  • 'Save our world!'

  • Children around the world did the same

  • more than a million of them, in 1,600 cities.

  • Greta started getting invited to speak at major events

  • even sailing to North America,

  • where she attended the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit.

  • And she isn't afraid to tell politicians and lawmakers

  • they need to make responsible choices for our planet...

  • We, the young people, are the ones

  • who are going to write about you in the history books.

  • We are the ones who get to decide how you will be remembered,

  • so my advice for you is to choose wisely.

  • She's been on lists of the world's most powerful women,

  • and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize more than once,

  • but does that mean she's actually changed anything really?

  • Let's hear from climate activist and lawyer, Rizwana Hasan,

  • about why she's important.

  • What is most important about her movement is the fact that

  • she is spreading a message to a different generation,

  • who will be taking the leadership.

  • So, the hope actually lies there.

  • It's not about changing law,

  • it's not about changing the present-day policies yet

  • but it's about creating leadership for the future.

  • Although Greta hasn't directly changed any other laws,

  • she has inspired others in her generation.

  • They may be the ones to fix the climate.

  • So, do current laws support the aims of campaigners like Greta?

  • To some extent, international laws are supportive

  • of the claims of the climate activists and environmental justice activists.

  • We do have good... some good international environmental law,

  • but we actually need more of it.

  • We actually need more provisions in the international law

  • against use of fossil fuel, against deforestation,

  • against pollution of water courses.

  • Although she agrees with some international law,

  • campaigners like Rizwana want laws against fossil fuels,

  • cutting down trees and polluting water.

  • And she thinks Greta's fame could help make that happen.

  • That is why we see that

  • the US is making a comeback to the Paris Agreement.

  • The media attention is actually creating wider awareness

  • among people, about the problems of climate change,

  • because of the media attention.

  • It is because of the media attention

  • that a Bangladeshi farmer would now know

  • why the changes that he's seeing in the weather patterns is happening.

  • She thinks media attention on Greta pushes politicians to do things,

  • like when the US rejoined the Paris climate agreement.

  • It also raises awareness of the problems.

  • What is the main problem for campaigners like Greta, legally?

  • Not having an international platform,

  • where the campaigners can actually take their grievances to... for redress.

  • Had there been an international court,

  • that would deal with crimes against environment

  • and where the campaigners would be able to go

  • when their national governments are not giving them relief,

  • that could actually advance that cause of the campaigners.

  • Unlike human rights abuses,

  • there isn't an international court specially for climate cases.

  • Rizwana says this is a big problem for campaigners.

  • Even though there isn't a special climate court,

  • campaigners do use other courts.

  • Let's hear about a very unusual group of activists.

  • Climbing temperatures:

  • one of the most talked about parts of climate change.

  • A heatwave in Europe in 2019 killed thousands of people

  • across the continent, according to officials.

  • And some of the people most affected by rising heat are the elderly.

  • And some of the elderly are doing something about that.

  • These women are the Union of Swiss Senior Women for Climate Protection,

  • or the KlimaSeniorinnen.

  • Here's how one of them dealt with the heat.

  • You don't even want to turn on the light because you fear that...

  • I mean, when you close the shuttersit's dark inside,

  • you don't want to turn on the light, or I did want... not want to,

  • because you feel like you are heating the room with that.

  • They took a case to Swiss court, but lost.

  • We want our government to implement a climate plan

  • that guarantees the required 1.5° limit on global warming.

  • So, now they're going to try to use international law

  • at the European Court of Human Rights.

  • Georg Klinger worked with the women.

  • He explains what argument they used in Swiss court.

  • So, the main point about that case is that

  • the climate law of the Swiss government is actually unlawful.

  • So, not doing enough to protect people from climate collapse

  • is a violation to fundamental rights

  • that are protected in our constitution, like the right to live,

  • and also in the European Convention of Human Rights.

  • The women argued, in Swiss court,

  • that Swiss law broke human rights laws, like the right to life,

  • by not protecting them from climate change.

  • So, why did they lose?

  • The Supreme Court came to the conclusion

  • that we still have time

  • to avert the most dangerous impacts of climate change.

  • They said that this threshold of 1.5° is not reached yet.

  • So, the intensity of the threat to human rights is not big enough

  • for a court to get involved.

  • The court said climate change wasn't yet a big enough threat

  • to the women's human rights for them to get involved.

  • Why would an international court say something different?

  • I think they could come to a different conclusion

  • because this court is specialised on human rights.

  • They really know about the threats to human rights

  • and we also heard from this court that they realise

  • that climate change is such a threat.

  • They believe they have a better chance in the international court,

  • because it specialises in human rights

  • and they have heard it considers climate change a big threat.

  • Georg thinks the law needs to change.

  • Yeah, I think our actual law really needs to be changed,

  • because it's well done for direct threats like,

  • for example, a chemical spill.

  • It's not good for, like, these bigger, overall threats,

  • like climate change, which is without any doubt

  • the biggest threat to our fundamental human rights,

  • but for which our law is not really made to deal with.

  • Georg says the law isn't made

  • to deal with big overall threats, like climate change.

  • It's better at one-off events, like an oil spill.

  • Young and old, climate campaigners are trying to help the climate.

  • We've seen that their efforts put pressure

  • on politicians to change the law,

  • giving all generations hope for the future.

Environmental activists are on the news a lot,

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Climate campaigners - BBC Learning English

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/10/21
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