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CLIMATE LITIGATION IN BRAZIL,
A PROMISING NEW ERA

By Alice de Siqueira Khouri, Lucas Ribeiro Lima
and Vivian Marcondes de Oliveira

In recent years, the Brazilian government has demonstrated a total lack of commitment to climate action and
has misled the NDC update.1

As a result of this inaction climate litigation  between human rights and climate change,        Fund5 resources, used to tackle climate
has emerged as one of society’s greatest         determining the federal government’s            change, was unconstitutional.
tools to fill the gaps towards sustainability.   obligation to honour its international
And the tides are slowly turning.2               commitments and protect the human right to      With this decision, Brazilian citizens now
                                                 a healthy and thriving environment.             have additional legal mechanisms to
Following the recent UN General Assembly’s                                                       pursue their fundamental right to a healthy
decision that access to a clean and healthy      In short, the STF argued that environmental     environment, which intrinsically means
environment is a universal human right,3         law treaties constitute a variety of human      a government actively within the climate
last July, the Brazilian Federal Supreme         rights treaties and, therefore, hold            agenda – whether they like or not. This is
Court (“STF”) delivered a similarly historic     supranational status. By this argument, the     certainly an important step towards climate
decision.4 The decision is a major milestone     Court understood that the government’s          action.
as it recognized the intrinsic relationship      inefficiency to correctly allocate the Climate

                                                                                                 References:


                                                                                                 1. P olítica por Inteiro. A Zero Sum Game:
                                                                                                    Brazil’s announcement on NDC at COP26
                                                                                                    lacks ambition - Política por Inteiro. https://
                                                                                                    www.politicaporinteiro.org/2021/11/01/a-
                                                                                                    zero-sum-game-brazils-announcement-
                                                                                                    on-ndc-at-cop26-lacks-ambition/. Access:
                                                                                                    August 5th, 2022.

                                                                                                 2. Pursuant to the Sabin Center data base, there
                                                                                                    have been 28 climate-related lawsuits in Brazil,
                                                                                                    compared to 49 in Latin America and the
                                                                                                    Caribbean. Access: August 6th, 2022.

                                                                                                 3. U N General Assembly declares access to
                                                                                                    clean and healthy environment a universal
                                                                                                   human right. Africa Renewal. https://www.
                                                                                                   un.org/africarenewal/magazine/july-
                                                                                                   2022/un-general-assembly-declares-
                                                                                                   access-clean-and-healthy-environment-
                                                                                                   universal-human. Access: August 6th,
                                                                                                   2022.

                                                                                                 4. The ADPF (Non-Compliance to a Fundamental
                                                                                                    Principle) No. 708 discusses the changes
                                                                                                    made in 2019 by the federal government in the
                                                                                                    National Fund on Climate Change - Climate
                                                                                                    Fund - which reduced the fund’s budget,
                                                                                                    leading to the suspension of its activities. The
                                                                                                    plaintiffs argued that the Funds’ closing led
                                                                                                    to a direct impact in the fight against illegal
                                                                                                    deforestation. Access: August 5th, 2022.

                                                                                                 5. Fundo Clima. BNDES. https://www.
                                                                                                   bndes.gov.br/wps/portal/site/home/
                                                                                                   financiamento/produto/fundo-clima.

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