Alf’s contribution to the event “Handwriting the Constitution presents The Universal Declaration of Climate Rights” was drafted with the guidance of esteemed professors of environmental law, lawyers from a major UK “Green Law” firm, administrators at the United Nations Environmental Program, and ex-members of the European parliament. His document breaks with its environmental legislative precedent, insofar as it frames Climate Rights from a distinctly pre-human perspective. Landscapes, ecosystems, and species, it claims, have a right to protection from the impacts of anthropogenic climate change, which precedes considerations about human life, well-being, and dignity - which nonetheless constitute the Declaration’s culminating section.
Alf’s interest in climate rights began in 2017, at the annual MUN (Model United Nations) organized in Venice, Italy. As Chair of the International Court of Justice committee, he rallied groups of six student-lawyers and seven student-jurors in building a case and successfully prosecuting the United States of America for human rights violations, following its 2017 withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation. He now believes that the best way for substantial change to occur at a politico-legislative level is a “fundamental extension in morality”, to quote Garrett Hardin, on the part of governmental leaders and the public that will hold them accountable. Inciting that change is a mission, he believes, that is contingent on constructing the economic infrastructure capable of channeling environmental sentiments into effective action.
“The Universal Declaration of Climate Rights” heralds an extension in morality and is a rallying point around which environmentalists and citizens alike can gather to uphold the intrinsic right of ecological beauty, stability, and prosperity to remain untrammeled. It embodies the tenet of legal Trust Doctrine, by which environmental assets – belonging to a common trust – must be maintained and improved in their quantity and quality by citizens and by corporate and governmental trustees. Alf’s interview with Professor Mary C. Wood, a foremost expert in environmental trust doctrine, here.
Following its unveiling on the 4th of June, 2021, the official text of The Universal Declaration of Climate Rights will be available online through Mr. Alf’s professional website at www.leonardalf.com.