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Judiciary must discuss environmental issues in the face of climate tragedies, says Barroso | Brazil


President of the Federal Supreme Court (STF), Minister Luís Roberto BarrosoMarcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

Published 14/05/2024 15:30

The president of the Federal Supreme Court (STF), minister Luís Roberto Barroso, stated that climate tragedies such as the floods in Rio Grande do Sul and the forest fires in Canada highlight the need for action by constitutional courts around the world in relation to environmental issues . The judge stated this Monday, the 13th, that global warming is no longer a subject restricted to scientists and, therefore, needs to occupy the center of international discussions.

Barroso made the statement during J20, an event that brings together representatives of the Supreme Courts and Constitutional Courts of the G-20 countries, a group currently chaired by Brazil. Until this Tuesday, the 14th, magistrates will debate, at the headquarters of the Court of Justice of Rio de Janeiro (TJ-RJ), issues such as social justice, sustainability and technology in the judicial sphere.

When citing the disaster in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, which has already affected more than 2.1 million people and left 147 dead, the president of the STF stated that the involvement of the Judiciary in discussions on actions to combat climate change are justified because they interfere in the fundamental rights of individuals. According to Barroso, issues such as the lack of incentives and public policies to protect the most vulnerable people are issues that are related to the environmental crisis.

According to the minister, recognizing the protection of the environment as a matter of fundamental right means that Justice, “in different parts of the world”, stops considering the climate issue as a responsibility only of the Legislative and Executive Powers. “Look what’s happening in Rio Grande do Sul. It involves one of the main fundamental rights, which is the right to life. People are dying because of climate change,” said Barroso.

However, the judge highlighted that, although some specific judicial decisions are important “to overcome part of the inertia that often affects politics when dealing with these matters”, the courts should not be protagonists in this matter, because “the world cannot be saved from climate change with judicial decisions”.

For Barroso, the fundamental action of the Courts in relation to the climate crisis must be the prioritization of long-term objectives, given that public policies adopted by governments often have “an electoral deadline while the damage that is produced to the environment It will only effectively produce its negative results 20 or 30 years from now.”

Therefore, the minister highlights the importance of seeking intergenerational justice, which takes into account the effects of current decisions that will be felt in the future. For Barroso, “this is the commitment that each generation has to preserve minimum conditions of sustainability for the next generations”, even provided for in the Constitution that defends environmental conservation with a view to protecting future generations.

Barroso also said that he sees the country as a potential leader in global efforts on climate change. “Brazil has predominantly clean energy and well above average, it has renewable energy sources such as sun, wind and biomass, it has the Amazon which is perhaps the largest provider of environmental services in the world”, said the minister when arguing that if Brazil It is not capable of being an industrial or technological leader, it can and should be a leader in environmental protection.

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