Young campaigners seek to sue prime minister for failures on climate crisis

Three young people have accused Boris Johnson of breaching his legal duty to take “practical and effective measures” to tackle climate change.


At the High Court in London, Adetotal Onamade (24), Jerry Amokwandoh (22) and Marina Tricks (20), argued that the government was breaching their rights to life and family life under the Human Rights Act.

The hearing, supported by the environmental charity Plan B Earth, was an application to allow the case to be argued in full. Judgement was reserved.

Tim Crosland, of Plan B Earth, said the “existential threat” of climate change was already causing loss of life and displacement of people at scale, damaging the mental health of young people and jeopardising the conditions which make the planet habitable.

“if we don’t look at this now, understand the issues now, it will be too late. There is everything to be lost if we don’t give these claimants the right to have their case heard in full.”

Mr Crosland said the three young people have family in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America and had been exposed to “disproportionate and discriminatory impacts and risks” of climate change.

He said:

[the government’s] “failure to take practical and effective measures to address the climate crisis creates intolerable risks to the lives and family lives of all those within the jurisdiction, but has disproportionate and discriminatory impacts for many, including the younger generation, their children and grandchildren.”

He said the government had failed to take practical and effective measures to:

  • align UK greenhouse gas emissions to a limit on temperature rise of 1.5C
  • adapt to projected impacts of climate change
  • align financial flows to the 1.5C limit

He also accused the government of failing to provide redress to people who had suffered loss and damage for climate change.

Adetola Onamade told the court that seeing the government breaking commitments under international law had a profound impact on her.

“Those breaches are directly impacting my own family and heritage communities, which an inextricable part of my own family life. My own mental health is bound up with the impact and experiences of my global family.

“People without that family may be able to blind themselves to what is happening in a way that is not possible when it’s your family or friends on the frontline or in these sacrificed zones, that have been engineered by the policies of countries such as the UK.”

Fellow claimant, Jerry Amokwandoh, accused the government of discrimination by saying they had no family connections to the climate frontline. “It makes sense to hear this in full”, he said. The third claimant, Marina Tricks, was not in court.

Richard Honey, representing the prime minister, treasury and the business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, opposed a full hearing. He said there were “knock-out blows” that disqualified the case.

It was wrong to say there was no legislative framework designed to address climate change, he said. A lot had changed in recent months, with the publication of new strategies and programmes:

“The UK’s Net Zero Strategy is arguably the world’s most comprehensive plan to reach Net Zero, and the Climate Change Act provides a rigorous framework for monitoring progress.

“This is a credible package that reflects the scale and breadth of the challenge. It is a material step forward.”

Mr Honey said the Paris Agreement imposed no obligation on individual states to implement its goals in any particular way. The court had no power to decide whether the UK was acting in breach of the Paris Agreement.

He said:

“It is, in my submission, not credible to argue that the UK government policies on climate change are directly effecting the lives of individuals in south London in 2021. Any risks are too remote for them to be victims today.”

He added:

“The evidence does not show that UK government climate policy on climate change creates a threat to the claimants right to life and does not show it is directly or seriously effecting the claimant’s health.”

Mr Justice Bourne reserved judgement in the case. He said he would give his ruling on whether the case would go to a full hearing in a “reasonable time” but would not predict how long it would take.

Categories: Legal, slider

24 replies »

  1. If/when Priti Patel forces through the draconian new policing bill, there could be precious little way left of legally protesting about any climate change issues (or any other issue come to that), other than by recourse to legal methods. No doubt there will be legislation to stitch that up too. Apparently, that’s democracy.

    • As I have said previously, groups like Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Briton, are essentially “Controlled Opposition”. It’s a long history of perpetuated process of controlling any opposition to a ruling elites attempts to suppress dissent and crush opposition to draconian enforcement laws. As I have said before, those at the cutting edge of protest are genuine but are used and abused by their financially manipulated organisations in order discredit all protest. By concentrating on just extreme protest and totally ignoring peaceful protests are used to prevent any opposition from ever becoming a popular movement. Since that is a danger to any controlled and manipulated governments.

      Extreme actions and reactions are designed to be manipulated and financed in order to interfere with the subject populations activities. thereby creating opposition to popular movements that oppose draconian government increasing control. And therefore are used to insert even more draconian “legal rights” to government and police. That were previously lawful. The purpose is to utterly destroy any legal right to freedom of protest for any reason.

      Its nothing other than the Hegelian Dialectic in its political mode. Create a problem, (there are many of those right now) organise a disruptive reaction, (extreme controlled disruption) then impose a pre-prepared solution (to impose draconian freedom destructive law and suppression of all dissent) to suppress all opposition.

      • Priti Patel has quietly been stuffing even more punitive anti-protest powers into the policing bill

        “Priti Patel has effectively criminalised the act of protest. The Government waited until the final stages of a bill’s legislative process and then suddenly proposed a series of amendments, leaving reporters and human rights groups very little time to raise the alarm.
        The mechanism she’s used is the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill, which first went before the Commons in March for its initial debate, and is now being turned into something even more alarming in the House of Lords.”

        “The bill was already a stunningly draconian piece of legislation. One of its chief provisions was to allow police to impose severe restrictions on protests on the basis of noise. If they were loud enough to cause “serious unease, alarm or distress” to a single passer-by – a description which covers any demonstration at all – the police power was triggered.”

        “At the time, the so-called libertarians on the Tory benches voted with the Government. Figures like Philip Davies, David Davis and Steve Baker, who had spent the preceding months warning of the tyranny of anti-Covid measures, were suddenly silent when it came to an assault on protest. Instead, they waved away concerns, saying that the more alarming aspects of the bill could be addressed later in committee stage – the part of a bill’s life when it is supposed to be combed over by parliamentarians.”

        “In fact, the opposite has happened. Instead of toning the bill down, the Home Secretary has made it vastly more dangerous, adding several aggressive new provisions. And now, as it goes through committee stage in the Lords, these new powers are being heaped on it, turning it into the single greatest legislative threat to British liberties in our lifetime.”

        • “The first mechanism is stop and search. Under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, police can use this power if they have “reasonable grounds for suspecting” someone is carrying certain items or something which could be used to violate certain laws, like burglary or theft. Patel is massively expanding the kinds of laws which might be included.”

          “Now police can deploy stop and search to avoid “serious disruption” or a “public nuisance”. They can be initiated “whether or not the constable has any grounds for suspecting that the person… is carrying a prohibited object”. It’s carte blanche for invasive police action against activists.”

          “Those who refuse to give themselves up to this intrusion face the full force of the law. Anyone found guilty of obstructing a stop and search during a protest faces a jail term “not exceeding 51 weeks”. In other words, they risk imprisonment for nearly a year.”

          “Patel then appears to take direct aim at the Insulate Britain protests. Amendment 319C criminalises “wilful obstruction of a highway”. Amendment 319D criminalises the obstruction of “major transport works”, including roads, rail lines or airport runways. Amendment 319A creates an offence of “locking on”, or carrying equipment which might facilitate it. It targets anyone who attaches themselves to “a person, to an object or to land”. These all come with a potential 51 week prison sentence. In fact, this penalty is plastered all over the legislation.
          Insulate Britain protestors supergluing themselves to a road are the clear target, but the powers go far beyond them. There is no definition of the term “attach”, so it could equally be applied to protestors who link arms during a sit-down protest, or even hold hands. It could apply to someone found with superglue while walking past a protest, or to the disabled activists who chained their wheelchairs to traffic lights over benefits cuts.”

          “But the most far-reaching and alarming part of the legislation is called an SDPO, or Serious Disruption Prevention Order. It is one of the most egregious assaults on individual freedom we’ve seen in modern legislation.
          An SDPO is basically a protest Asbo. It can be imposed on anyone convicted of a “protest-related offence”. This category alone is extremely broad. It potentially applies, under the provisions of the bill itself, to the examples above – possessing superglue near a demonstration, or holding hands during a protest.”

          • “Three young people have accused Boris Johnson of breaching his legal duty to take “practical and effective measures” to tackle climate change.”

            “At the High Court in London, Adetotal Onamade (24), Jerry Amokwandoh (22) and Marina Tricks (20), argued that the government was breaching their rights to life and family life under the Human Rights Act.”

            Congratulations to the children mentioned above who have taken the step to pursue Boris Johnson for the governments lack of any real action at COP26.
            These children and those in the entire world are the ones who will be forced to bear the brunt of this governments desperate measures to entirely disarm and interfere with the wording of the agreements. Those actions will enable any fossil fuel corporation to run roughshod over any and all provisions which were meant to have been made legally enforceable.

            Without those intended legally defined regulatory organisation and enforcement. All that remains are weak and unenforceable “recommendations and advice”.

            Children and adults are in danger now of the effects of fossil fuel pollution and monopolised use. No amount of “you need us” cries of outrage from the fossil fuel industry supporters can in any way excuse the fact that the Earth is in the process of the 6th Major Extinction Level Event in the entire history of the Earth. Now called the Holocene Extinction Level Event. The figures of species extinction are extreme and even suicidally insane. Where is the excuse for that by the fossil fuel supporters? “Everybody dies” seems to be the only excuse. But who gives an industry the right to “suicide” the majority of all life on the Earth, let alone just the Human species?

            Sixth Mass Extinction of Wildlife Accelerating- Study

            Also the increase in the ambient temperature of the Earth is more likely now more likely to be 2.4 degrees Celsius which further endangers all life on Earth. That is far too far from the original target increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius which could at least have been aimed at before this interfered with climb down at COP26.

            And there still remains the inconvenient fact, that 1 in 5 people worldwide are dying of fossil fuel pollution already. That, if or when the increase in temperature rises to 2.4 degrees Celsius or beyond, will no doubt increase to 1 in 4 deaths caused by fossil fuel pollution and the effects on all life on Earth will be even more dire.

            Regarding democracy. Who voted for this 6th major extinction level event? The 1 in 5 deaths worldwide from fossil fuel pollution? The increase in ambient temperature? Who would vote for these effects and wave them through government without a comment? Would you vote for a referendum on climate change?

            Would you?

            • I’m not sure that describing the plaintiffs as ‘children’ is suitably respectful or indeed factually correct Phil. Indeed it sounds condescending.
              There are full adults with adults comprehension of the world around them and their responsibilities to create a better world for future generations.
              If only our mendacious Establishment and Government were equally adult about their responsibilities for the future rather than simply enhancing their power and short term bank balance!

              • Yes Peter. Good point. A slip up. Not intentional though. Writing too quickly again. No condescension or disrespect inferred or intended. Quite the opposite in fact.

                However, although these are young adults. I was thinking of the children who are equally under threat by the dangers of this government not enforcing COP26 as they should have done. My Bad.

                *Hi, Paul Seaman.*

                Could the third paragraph in my post above be changed from: “These “children” and those in the entire world are the ones who will be forced to bear the brunt of this governments desperate measures to entirely disarm and interfere with the wording of the agreements.”

                To “These “young adults” and those in the entire world are the ones who will be forced to bear the brunt of this governments desperate measures to entirely disarm and interfere with the wording of the agreements.

                Thanks Peter and Paul.

        • Indeed Phil, I’ve long been uneasy about the backing, funding and organisation of XR, particularly given the inevitable and guaranteed opposition to their tactics, clearly designed to anger everyone from ‘Daily Mail man’ to quite reasonable people. It would be quite easy and reasonable for a govt to introduce legislation to curb such activity… then quietly slip in completely unreasonable and draconian restrictions on perfectly legitimate, acceptable, nay essential protest. A good name for the process would be the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill.
          It’s perfectly legal of course, but is it legitimate, safe, justifiable, ethical or acceptable? I’m rather reminded of the rise of Fascist regimes in the early 20th century and their gradual modus operandi.

  2. Yep, Mike, democracy supports legal methods. Never has supported illegal ones.

    Quite simple really. Democracy allows those to make the laws to make them. It also allows those who don’t like those laws to try again the next time and if successful, change those laws.

    Perhaps those who created such negative impacts to large numbers of voters should have thought about the consequences, rather than carry on regardless and then whinge about the outcome. Actions have always had consequences.

  3. Where laws seek to prevent the democratic right to protest they are, ipso facto, unjust and anti-democratic. Democratic principles encourage protest against the enactment or enforcement of such laws.
    Interesting reflection by Martin Luther King in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail – “One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

    Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.

    Nothing is simple. Thought is often required.

    • Difficult isn’t it Iaith1720? Going back to my religious knowledge way back when, there were some debates between students and teacher as to exactly what we were intended to do with our lives and what our responsibilities were and are.

      One of the aspects that emerged from those debates, related to our existence at all on Earth. In Law theory, God and Gods Law, is actually enshrined in law, and is mentioned in many legal documents. The debates explored the difference between “Grace” and “Law”. “Being in Grace”, means that God gave us all life to live on the Earth and our only option is to follow our sacred responsibility to obey all the conditions that are laid upon us as living creatures.

      Under Grace, the only responsibility we all have, is to God. That requires that no other human being, no matter how they set themselves up as Kings, Queens or elected government, or by self styled nobility or elite privilege. Is allowed to intervene between our responsibility to live in peace and harmony with all other living species. In Grace, God is the only one to be obeyed. The rest of our actions, once our responsibility is strictly observed, is to have free will to do as we can to preserve life and to protect everyone and everything from danger.

      The implication is that every King, Queen, or elected government, or by self styled nobility or elite privilege, has to obey the same responsibility to God, and does not have right to intervene between the individual and God. Their only responsibility is to obey and serve. Just as the individual does. That makes us all servants, and no one has the right to rule over others provided they follow their god given responsibility to everyone and everything else. In theory governments are nothing more than elected civil servants. their only responsibility is to serve and protect the people. Not to rule over them with rods of iron.

      Law, however has become corrupted to such an extent, that those who set themselves up over others in a hierarchical pyramidal structure that goes right to the most wealthy at the top, who then feel free to act like cruel false gods. Everyone else is then subservient, not to God, but to the level of the hierarchy that is immediately above them. They only rule over those below them, and so on down to the assumed lowest, the normal individuals, who have to obey the entire false god pyramidal hierarchical structure. the result of that is essentially slavery for all people at all layers, except at the top of the pyramid. Who deem themselves responsible to neither god nor any other man.

      They all want to set themselves between the individual and God. What that has created, whether by accident or design, is a situation where ordinary man has collectively given up their responsibility to those who have set themselves up to rule over us. That essentially breaks Gods laws. The result of the overturning of the individuals right to live in peace under only God, has become extinct and those who rule at whatever level have become corrupted by the power that they have over others.

      There is a saying: “Power Corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

      • Maybe the only way out of that trap, is for all human beings to become fully responsible for their own actions under God, with no intervention of self styled authority, be that monarchy, government, or dictatorship, between God and man. Collectively and individually.

        That however, requires that we peacefully take back that responsibility from the false hierarchical gods. And to peacefully take the power back in order to act in a responsible way for all life and all ecosystems and environments on the entire planet. That can be enshrined first and foremost with the young as part of their education, the Steiner Schools educational system seem to be the way forward. Then after some time, individual responsibility will become second nature as they grow up. That was how the world once was, then some became wealthy through conquest and pillage, wars and conflicts, pandemics and disasters. And took control whether anyone wanted it or not. Then by the self styled rulers, enforced rule became commonplace. Not negotiable or debated, accepted or rejected. The penalty for refusing to obey absolute power, was violent imprisonment and death.

        The problem now, in reality, is that we have a very jealously guarded and protected hierarchical false god structure that has become used to rule absolutely. They will not give that up lightly. As this Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill demonstrates, the chains of oppression that were previously relatively loose, are being tightened to the point of choking the life out of democracy and human rights.

        Look around today and you can see the mechanisms of that need and desire to control. Pandemics, wars, endless diversions, hateful entertainment, political disputes, social chaos, indoctrination of all forms of authority to brainwash everyone to obey and not oppose authority in any way. All are used to dominate and suppress any individuality in so many countries now.

        There is an unfortunate legacy of human beings having been long previously a part of pack mentality. We are often told that we are social animals, but the unfortunate truth, is that we were originally pack animals. Small tribe like family groups.

        That is the compulsion that we must obey the pack leader, no matter how corrupt and evil they are. That ancient pack subservience has become encouraged to such a degree, that many don’t even question authority, let alone oppose it or challenge it. The only way that is overturned in a pack, is for a stronger younger potential pack leader, usually a male, but in some societies also females are leaders. The shame is, that all you get in a pack, to challenge and to overcome the older and weaker pack leader, is a younger stronger pack leader. The majority have no power. The rest are no better off, and the best they can hope for is a less violent pack leader. If or when the new pack leader becomes corrupted by power, then the same problem exists as before. No progress comes from the pack system.

        Maybe the only way out of that is for the few who can trust themselves and others, combine into safe communities that have no responsibility to the false god hierarchical structures. A parallel independent free and open, non hierarchical structure where everyone has individual responsibility for the betterment of the entire community. They can at least then begin to take the long road back to sanity and to teach each other how the human race truly must evolve out the ancient traps and to be truly responsible for everything and everyone under God.

        Native American tribes had leaders, but they were controlled by elders, who had the experience and knowledge to shape the tribe for the betterment of all, not just themselves. there was no hierarchical structure, only inter related group responsibility which was debated at all levels. only when there was majority approval and agreement, was any action taken.

        That might be a better way out of this mess.

  4. Interesting that the same letter referenced legal protest.

    Is it down to each individual to decide what are just laws and what are not? Would that be democracy? Nope, that is called anarchy. Laws can always be subject to legal challenge by anyone who thinks they have a case.

    Where are the rights within all of that of the rest of the population who have their own rights to not be impacted by some who want to decide that their rights give them sway over their fellow men and women? That is called antisocial behaviour.

    Anarchy and antisocial behaviour requires a Priti strong response. That’s what happens. Actions, then consequences.

    May be some more sympathy if more could actually explain coherently what they are protesting about.

  5. Hmmm.

    So, with that new knowledge about corrupt law, then anyone can decide they have rights to protest about the guy in the street wearing a Rolex and remove it, and claim the First Amendment.

    Bit unfortunate there is the Second Amendment that may produce some rather unfortunate consequences!

    No application of the law between those two equals anarchy.

    I think (thought) I prefer that democracy allows laws to be set by those democratically elected. Those laws can be changed at any time if there is consensus or by legal challenge which may be successful even without full consensus. Doesn’t appear to be the “outrage” against these proposed laws that some would suggest, (maybe because they are the perpetually outraged?) so apart from some minor amendments they will go through.

    Quite simple really. I will not be driving at 80mph on the motorway, (or 90mph if I was a BMW driver) or whinging if I suffer 3 points and a fine. Nor would I try and claim I was a better driver therefore I should be allowed to do something that is illegal. Even if I could try and crowd fund to pay the fine.
    Think about actions and what the consequences may be. Sometimes, it may be very simple to see the writing on the wall, that says “don’t go there”. But some won’t see, and will, and the law will be amended to accommodate.

    Quite simple really. It is not new either, having been the case ever since laws were made.

  6. I repeat. Thought is necessary – that is the extent of simplicity.
    It looks like the quasi fascist law envisaged by Patel might well fall victim to outrage on the part of those with a moral compass – fortunately they are still with us despite the best efforts of those who equate law with justice, with the let-out that they the law can always be changed if and when found wanting. Try telling that to those who had to live in NSDAP Germany after the Ermächtigungsgesetz, the so-called Enabling Act. Examples are legion in the Third Reich of unjust (and murderous) laws which even the outrage (of the too few) could not suppress.
    The recent surge in applications to develop hydrocarbons evidenced on D or D is testimony to increased optimism on the part of the polluters. The Patel efforts to control dissent, together with her repulsive efforts to build a wall against migrants, deserve the whole-hearted engagement of us all, not excluding those for whom the law is a sacred cow, unable to be touched. Be aware – if Johnson still in his death agony as PM – were to fall, soon we pray, then fracking will once again raise its ugly merciless and rapacious head.

  7. Hmmm

    “Those for whom the law is a sacred cow.”

    If that were the case, then no need for new laws! Or adjustment to existing laws. After all, the UK has had centuries at making laws and the sacred cows should be left well alone, (lol), and women will continue to suffer. Should old laws that allowed women to be abused and slavery for other people be continued?. No need to look outside of the UK to see that laws are not sacred cows and they do need constant amendment, and a need for all those lawyers in Westminster.
    Otherwise, sorry ladies, back with the tampon tax, no vote and look out Mr. Fox. Forget those rights to enjoy the countryside as it is now covered in man traps.

    I think, therefore I disagree. But then, when someone is praying for something that they say will raise the head of fracking again (how?), I am not required to do much thinking to do so.

  8. Seemed that this discussion veered away from the rights and wrongs of the activities of onshore oil and gas industry for some reason. Basically genuine noisy protest against anything that will probably cause harm to our world without a benefit for that world that will outweigh that harm should happen to ensure the issue is thoroughly examined before proceeding. By ‘benefit’ I mean overall benefit not just more cash for the government and oil and gas industry shareholders.
    This wasn’t the case regarding fracking the Fylde where absolutely no consideration was given in planning discussion and public debate to the probable destruction of the major exisisting businesses of farming and tourism should production level oil and gas industry activities commence!
    Therefore high intensity non-violent protests were more than justified and they were the reason the industry was closed down once the swarms of Hydrofrac Earthquakes commenced. Industry and Establishment infiltrators attempted to close these protests down but without success.

    • Hi Peter,
      Discussion ‘veered away’ as I raised an objection to the suggestion that illegal protest was undemocratic The suggestion was that the law was a sacred cow demanding total homage and acceptance, irrespective of whether democratic laws and principles were infringed in their creation – principles such as the right to protest non violently. I hoped to show that the argument that one should simply await the timed opportunity to reject the relevant government was a flaw in the understanding of democracy, and that the argument in question was far from “simple”. That violence may occur – precipitated by either side – if such morally and ethically justifiable protests are dispersed in the enforcement of such laws, would not be surprising and should give the law-givers pause for thought. The suggestion that illegal methods are necessarily undemocratic is a nonsense. No distinction is permitted in this assertion of simplicity between good and bad law. In fact the suggestion that any law emanating from a democratically elected government is ipso facto good, is demonstrably wrong.
      As you say, our protests should force a rethink, and when better than now?

    • The point was Peter, that illegal protests are illegal. Anyone can break the law if they wish to do so-and pay the consequences.

      It is known 70mph is the limit on the motorway, many still flout that. So, they are prosecuted. Some whinge about it and claim it is undemocratic, but if they live in UK then 70mph is what should be followed. There are plenty of opportunities to go and do something different where the law is different. Democracy in different countries provides different laws. Democracy can change those laws in most countries if there is enough support for it. Currently, in UK, it would appear that democracy is supporting stronger laws against protest that has caused great inconvenience and some danger to large numbers of people who can vote, and a large drain upon the police who are responsible for keeping individuals protected from crime.

      Actions will have consequences.

  9. No, Peter, the seismic events would have happened sooner without the protests, so you delayed the inevitable!

    You can post to the contrary on DoD as much as you like, but history will show that to be the case.

    And, I recall it was farming who rented land at PNR to Cuadrilla, and that those non-violent protests included disgusting targeting of that family. Didn’t seem that much sympathy for farming there. Perhaps if the public were more interested in paying farming a proper price for what they produce then they would not need a second income stream.

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