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The climate crisis and the rule of law

Recommendation 2214 (2021)

Parliamentary Assembly
Assembly debate on 29 September 2021 (27th sitting) (see Doc. 15353, report of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, rapporteur: Ms Edite Estrela; and Doc. 15354, opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, rapporteur: Mr Norbert Kleinwaechter). Text adopted by the Assembly on 29 September 2021 (27th sitting).
1. The Parliamentary Assembly refers to its Resolution 2399 (2021) “The climate crisis and the rule of law”. The earth has entered the Anthropocene era and irreversible changes have been made. Despite the strong commitments made in connection with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, a doomsday scenario cannot be ruled out. The climate crisis is a local, national, regional and global challenge, which humankind must face up to.
2. The climate crisis is a systemic threat, which puts institutions and societies to the test. It questions our ability to react to risks and vulnerabilities which were not recognised in time for what they really were. Like the Covid-19 pandemic, this crisis amplifies the effects of other crises, namely those of society, the economy and democracy.
3. The Assembly is convinced that the Council of Europe can help to establish climate resilience in the face of global overheating by drawing on the rule of law, democracy and human rights. The rule of law regulates the capacity of institutions to play their role with due regard for the separation of powers and when faced with adversity. The Assembly invites the Committee of Ministers to reincorporate the task of protecting the environment into the Council of Europe’s intergovernmental activities as a matter of priority.
4. Bearing in mind the huge changes in mentalities and attitudes required to meet the climate crisis challenge, the Assembly solemnly emphasises the scale of the efforts required. The remaining opportunities to tackle the climate crisis will have to be taken over the next nine years because after that it may be too late. Consequently, the Assembly calls on the Organisation to mobilise every partner, at local, national, regional and global levels, to make these changes promptly and to share the results of their experimentation.
5. The Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
5.1 incorporate the objectives of sustainable development and the fight against the climate crisis into all of the Council of Europe’s activities and operations, including when preparing strategies and action plans;
5.2 encourage Council of Europe partners, whether from the public or private sector, to implement the States’ commitments with regard to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions;
5.3 assess and limit the Council of Europe’s environmental impact at local, national, regional and international levels so as to enhance sustainability;
5.4 strengthen co-operation with other international organisations, in particular the United Nations, the World Health Organization and the European Union, in order to consolidate efforts to tackle climate crisis issues.