Rethinking environmental rights: climate change, conservation and the ECJ (P. Sands)


Professor Philippe Sands QC (Lecture)


Environmental rights; climate change; conservation; Christopher Stone; anthropocentric; standing (locus standi); NGOs; Principle 10 UNRCED (Rio); European Court of Justice; Aarhus Convention; lack of legal accountability.


The article was initially a lecture given at the David Hall Memorial Lecture (11th June 2008). It commences by referring to Stones seminal article ‘Should trees have standing’ (available on GNHRE) and hence reveals that rights to protect the environment are problematic from a conservationists standpoint as such rights are anthropocentric in nature. When the state fails to protect the environment who has standing to bring proceedings? Although in England and Wales the law has come a long way to allow NGOs and individuals standing to bring an action to challenge a ‘failure of the state to give effect to its environmental obligations’ this is unfortunately not the position in the European Court of Justice. Despite flouting the Principles and Articles of both binding treaties and ‘soft law’ documents the European Community institutions continue to deny the concerned individual and NGOs the right to protect the environment.


(2008) 20(3) Environmental Law and Management, 120-126.


Rethinking environmental rights: climate change, conservation and the European Court of Justice.