Petition launched calling for action to hold public bodies and polluters to account
A petition has been launched calling for an enforceable human right to a healthy environment for every person in Scotland.
Posted by the Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland (ERCS), it follows the Scottish Government’s pledges to include a human right to a healthy environment in the forthcoming human rights (Scotland) bill, and to consider setting up an environmental court for Scotland.
Earlier this year, a UN body found Scotland’s legal system is breaking international human rights and environmental law because of the high costs of going to court. It called for reform “as a matter of urgency”.
Emilia Hanna, advocacy officer for the ERCS, said: “Everyone in Scotland deserves to live in a healthy environment, yet it is incredibly difficult to use the law to protect the environment. Faced with the climate and nature emergencies, the time for an enforceable human right to a healthy environment is now.”
She continued: “It is welcome news that the Scottish Government has committed to putting the right to a healthy environment in law, but the task now is to make sure this right brings about the system change needed to deliver for the planet and everyone in Scotland. This is what the petition is about.
“For the right to deliver, it must be enforceable against public bodies and polluters. It must guarantee that we have the right to a high quality environment, with clean air, a safe climate, healthy biodiversity and more.
“The Scottish Government must reform our legal system so that it is affordable for people to go to court to challenge breaches of environmental law, and it must set up an accessible specialist environmental court for people to be able to defend the environment in a court of law.”
Earlier this year the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a pioneering resolution recognising that everyone should enjoy the human right to a healthy environment.
Dr David Boyd, United Nations special rapporteur for human rights and the environment, said: “There can be no question that the time has come for the recognition and implementation of the right to a healthy environment. I encourage everyone to sign the petition so that Scotland can become one of the 150-plus countries in the world where the right to a healthy environment is making a difference in people’s lives.”