Three young people are suing the UK Government

On December 12th, three young British-citizens launched a campaign to sue the UK Government for its domestic and international violations of human rights, exactly five years after the UK adopted the landmark Paris Climate Agreement. The campaign, ‘Global Majority vs. UK Gov’, is backed by climate litigation charity Plan B and the Stop The Maangamizi campaign, and is all “about speaking directly to power” according to nineteen year old claimant, Marina Tricks. 

The three claimants are Adetola Stephanie Onamade, 23, Marina Tricks, 19, and Jerry Amokwandoh, 22, with Nigerian and Trinadadian, Mexican, and Ghanain heritage respectively. They are all young people of the Global Majority. This is significant to note because it informs the global implications of the UK Government’s actions: Onamade, Tricks and Amokwandoh want to make clear that the Global Majority are the people who suffer the most from global warming. This is particularly important when considering the financial and social consequences of environmental degradation caused by extractivist industries like fossil fuel mining. 

Claimant Marina Tricks does “not want to live in a world in which our friends and families living in Abya Yala (Latin America and the Caribbean), Afrika, and Asia are drowning, burning, starving, or having to migrate because countries like the UK, who got rich off the back of colonialism, capitalism, and slavery, and who have a historic responsibility to tackle the climate crisis, are in fact deciding to carry on with business as usual.” Therefore, according to Jerry Amokwandoh, “the only solution is to stop the harm and fund repair in our communities, in our schools, and globally – as is the Government’s obligation.”

According to the World Bank, the UK’s current trajectory towards 4 degrees of global warming is an act of genocide and ecocide that will cause the mass displacement of families and communities globally. This global warming is largely caused by increasing greenhouse gas emissions; an estimated 15% of which are directly financed by industry and trade in the City of London.

Claimant Adetola Onamade also highlighted the financial priorities and human rights violations of the UK Government during the Covid-19 pandemic, in which “we, as young people of the global majority, have witnessed the UK government fail to prepare and protect the most vulnerable in our communities, [who are] disproportionately on the frontlines.” 

She paralleled this negligence to the government’s “flippant approach” to the climate crisis, stating that “the UK, with its predominant wealth dependent on the fossil fuels of the Industrial Revolution, has a historic responsibility to transition its economy” in order to avoid repeating “the crimes of colonialism and erasure of whole cultures, communities and families”. 

According to the claimants, the UK government is aware of their domestic and international economic involvement in the climate crisis. Yet, despite this awareness, little has been done to steer the UK’s current, industrially-rooted course away from ecological collapse. Even if the UK Government does achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, as current UK Government policy advises, the UK’s emissions will still be catastrophically higher than those allowed under the 2015 Paris agreement. The Governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, has even pointed out that “We have a choice: rebuild the old economy, locking in temperature increases of 4C with extreme climate disruption; or build back better, preserving our planet for generations to come”. 

This moment of reassessment speaks to the potential of the ‘Global Majority VS UK Gov’ campaign – whilst the claimants wait for the government to respond to their notice of legal action (which should happen within the next two weeks), they also hope to encourage young people to exercise our voices for our common goal of survival, global justice, and our fundamental human rights. Jerry Amokwandoh puts it succinctly: as a part of the Global Majority, “our rights will not be questioned but rather exercised in order to claim back our futures and the chance of Global Justice for all.”

You can learn more about the community-based ‘Global Majority vs. UK Gov’ campaign, related initiatives for community and planetary repair, and the case itself at @GlobalMajorityVs .

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Meg Watts

May 2021
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