CLIMATE CHANGE: What can European law do?

French Version

Climate emergency

Humanity has entered a new biological era: the Anthropocene. This term, originally proposed by the American biologist Eugene F. Stoermer, was popularized in the early 2000s by the Nobel chemistry laureate Paul Crutzen. It refers to the time in which the action of man is likely to cause bio-geophysical changes on a global scale. Humans, masters of the planet, are now able to influence climate and biodiversity due to accelerated accumulation of greenhouse gases and irreversible damage caused by overconsumption of natural resources. The health and environmental risks to the planet have reached the point that the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) announced, in its report on 8 October 2018, that humanity has a few years left to act in order to preserve the conditions for life on Earth. This report is significant as, for the first time, the world’s leading experts on climate issues (the IPCC, established in 1988 by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the main international body responsible for assessing climate change) have clearly indicated that the protection of the planet requires immediate and effective action on the basis of available scientific data. Waiting would mean reducing, or even extinguishing, our chances of survival.

The initiative “Covering climate now”

Our partners

To overcome these major challenges, a United Nations summit on climate change will be held in New York on 23 September 2019. But the question often remains: what can the law do? And in our particular case: what should lawyers do? In other words, what is the role of the law and the task of lawyers with regard to climate risks that require timely and effective action? Can we avoid what some scholars already call the “great collapse of the planet”? What legal tools can be envisaged and implemented in this respect in the law of the European Union and its Member States? In this context, blogdroiteuropéen launches a new section on its website: Climate Change: what can European law do? This section will be coordinated by Alessandra Donati (Research fellow at the Max Planck Institute in Luxembourg; Doctorate of law at the University Paris 1 – Panthéon Sorbonne; Attornay at law in Paris and Milan), Misha Plagis (Postdoctoral Researcher at the T.M.C. Asser Institute in the Hague; Doctorate of law at the Freie Universität Berlin) and Olivia Tambou (Associate Professor at the University Paris-Dauphine). This initiative is not isolated, it is part of a larger project on a global scale started by the Columbia Journalism Review, the Guardian and The Nation, and now includes a large number of journals, magazines, scientists and high-level institutions around the world. The goal of this project is of great importance, and with our initiative we hope to broaden and share this dialogue with an even wider audience. The purpose of Covering Climate Now is to provide more and better information to citizens (and, in our case, especially lawyers) about the risks and issues related to climate change. We believe information is closely linked to prevention, and there can be no prevention without information. Thus, the fight against climate change begins with sharing and developing knowledge around this subject, which is, in many ways, “the most urgent story of our time”.

Our project

To achieve this goal, in line with the Covering Climate Now initiative, we will, starting today, provide a week of intense climate coverage. Then, on a regular basis, we will publish specialized posts that cover the various components of climate change and the plurality of actors involved or affected by its occurrence from a European perspective. Climate change, as a subject matter, is both plural and complex. It challenges our transportation systems; it requires rethinking our business models; it invites us to review our sources of energy supply; it implies reforming our environmental and public health systems as well as adopting sustainable dietary habits and land use practices. Climate change has no geographical barriers, nor political or temporal limitations; both public decision-makers and private decision makers (companies, civil society and individuals) are key actors,  and climate change is not limited to present generations,  it has the potential to affect the chances of survival of future generations.


As law becomes ever more global, climate change can become the lever facilitating the renewal and integration of legal systems, or it can be reduced to a threat, ever more imminent, which reflects the inability of decision-makers to act. It is up to us, todays lawyers and citizens, to undertake this Copernican revolution. The fight against climate change is still possible, but it requires, as the IPCC emphasised, efforts that are unprecedented in human history.

If you are one of these lawyers and citizens and you want to contribute to the reflection on climate change from a European perspective, do not hesitate to send an email to with your CV and a proposal for publication of around 300 words. Your contribution can be in English or French, and can take the form of a post (1000 words) or of a working paper (10-12 pages, Times 12, incl. footnotes).

We are looking forward to hearing back from you!

Alessandra Donati

The agenda for this week:

Tuesday  17 of September : « Le changement climatique et l’UE: quelques repères » by Olivia Tambou, Associate Professor at the University Paris-Dauphine.

Wednesday 18 of September: « Enseigner le changement climatique en faculté de droit » by Bernadette Le Baut-Ferrarese,Professor at the University Lyon III.

Thursday  19 of  September : « Le recours climatique devant la CJUE » by Eve Truilhé-Marengo, Director of research at CNRS, Director of the Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Internationales et Communautaires (CERIC) and by Estelle Brosset, Professor, Jean Monnet Chair, University of Aix-en Provenance, Coordinator of CEJM.

Friday 20 of September : « Intelligence artificielle et changement climatique que peut faire l’Europe ? » Video by Cédric Villani, deputy of La République en Marche

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