- The International Institute for Law and the Environment (IIDMA) is organizing, together with the Bar Association of Madrid, a conference to debate about the role of the judiciary in facing the climate crisis with the participation of members of the General Council of the Judiciary, the director of the Judicial School, Jorge Jiménez, and the director of the Spanish Office of Climate Change, Valvanera Ulargui, among others.
- The objective is to promote the inclusion of environmental issues in the training plans of the judicial school, in order to offer solvent legal responses to the environmental and climate crisis, as proposed by the Citizens’ Climate Assembly in its final report of recommendations.
March 28, 2023 – There is hardly any training in environmental and climate change law for the Spanish judiciary. This is an issue that the International Institute for Law and the Environment (IIDMA) has been warning about for years, given that it is an obstacle for the effective application of environmental protection norms and access to justice in this area as well.
“We have a large number of rules for the protection of our planet ranging from international conventions to laws and regulations, but there is a clear deficit in their application, in the light of the situation of environmental degradation we are facing,” says the director and founder of IIDMA, Ana Barreira. “It is essential that training programs of future judges include this subject, even more so in view of a very likely increase in judicial appeals in defense of the environment on which the judiciary will have to speak out”, she adds.
The Citizens’ Climate Assembly (ACC), a platform made up of 100 randomly selected individuals from various backgrounds that was created last year in application of the Climate Change and Energy Transition Law, also detected this deficiency. In its final report of recommendations to achieve “a safer and fairer Spain in the face of climate change” it included, in the recommendation number 146, the need to “train judges and members of the judiciary on legal responses to climate change and environmental protection”. This recommendation, which received 97.75% support from the members of the Assembly, seeks to promote “specific” training for this sector on climate change and environmental protection.
Conference at the Illustrious Bar Association of Madrid
To support this recommendation and promote awareness of this problem, IIDMA has organized the conference ‘The role of the judiciary in the fight against climate change and environmental protection‘, which took place this Friday, April 14, at the headquarters of the Bar Association of Madrid (ICAM). The event was attended by specialists such as Valvanera María Ulargui, director of the Spanish Office for Climate Change (OECC); Jorge Jiménez Martín, Magistrate and director of the Judicial School (General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) and vice-president of the International Organization for Judicial Training (IOJT); Wenceslao Olea Godoy, Member of the CGPJ and Magistrate of the Third Chamber of the Supreme Court (SC); Guillermina Yanguas Montero, Judge of the Contentious-Administrative Chamber of the High Court of Justice of Madrid (TSJM), among others.
In the words of IIDMA environmental lawyer Alba Iranzo: “Citizens are increasingly aware of the importance of the phenomenon of climate change for the health of the planet and the well-being of present and future generations. Given Spain’s level of vulnerability to the climate crisis, it is more necessary than ever to have specialized professionals in this area. This includes the judiciary, which plays a crucial role in ensuring, ultimately, the correct application of environmental regulations“.
Creation of environmental courts
The truth is that there has been an exponential increase in the number of climate litigation cases brought against large corporations for their highly polluting activities that are a source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or against public administrations for their lack of action in the face of climate change.
However, in Spain, a large part of these matters are settled before administrative or criminal courts. The IIDMA advocates the creation of specialized courts or chambers that would allow a more specific approach to environmental conflicts as it is a complex matter. Likewise, it would contribute to speed up the judicial procedures avoiding that damages to the environment could be consummated. This type of environmental court already exists in more than 50 countries, such as Canada, Chile and China