Climate activism leads to dictatorship
04 april 2023 | John Laughland
The Soviet system was notorious for its political abuse of the judicial system. The memory of the Moscow show trials, in which political opponents were judged as criminals, epitomises the cruelty of Stalinism. How odd, therefore, that the collective West is also abusing the judiciary to pursue political goals. This time, though, the pretext is not Communism but the climate.
Two recent decisions demonstrate this abuse. A lobby group and an individual have lodged appeals against France and Switzerland before the European Court of Human Rights, alleging that these countries have not done enough to combat climate change and that the health of citizens is therefore endangered. Two days later, a resolution was passed in the General Assembly of the United Nations asking the International Court of Justice to rule on states’ obligations to implement international agreements on climate policy.
In both cases, the judicial system is being used to achieve a political outcome. Human rights are being instrumentalised in the name of ecologism while international law (the law of the United Nations) is being used to establish top-down worldwide control of energy.
These two developments have occurred more or less at the same time as the International Criminal Court issued its ridiculous arrest warrant for the Russian president and Donald Trump was arraigned in a New York courtroom, the first ever criminal indictment of a former US president. George Soros’ long arm was behind both developments : the election campaign of Alvin Bragg, the New York district attorney who has put Donald Trump into the dock, was financed by a Soros-financed lobby group (there is a huge number of such “progressive” attorneys now in power in the US), while the ICC Prosecutor, Karim Khan, is a life member of the International Bar Association and its Human Rights Institute, which is also financed by the Open Society Foundation (as well as by many of the other usual suspects including the Sigrid Rausing Trust). These men are the Andrei Vyshinsky of our times. Similarly, the European Court of Human Rights has numerous judges who worked for Soros-financed NGOs and many of them even hear cases brought by their former employers, in flagrant violation of the most basic rules against conflicts of interest.
The attempt to impose climate policies through the courts is a very serious abuse of both the democratic and the judicial processes. First, the judicial : human rights law has already become very seriously degraded in recent decades. Whereas the original idea behind human rights was that certain core elements of human dignity should be protected from abuse by overweening state power, now – as this latest case shows with terrible clarity – they are being used to make demands for more state power over people’s everyday lives (how much energy they should consume, and what kind of energy).
Human rights law has therefore passed from the “negative freedom” defined by Isaiah Berlin – individuals should be allowed to live their lives without excessive interference from the state – to the collectivist and soon totalitarian “positive freedom” – my freedom is part of a larger rationalist social plan for the whole of humanity. Demands that the state refrain from acting have become demands that the state act. We have seen this for years in the demands for ever more exaggerated LGBT rights ; now it is extending into climate and energy policy.
By the same token, the logic of international law is inverted by the attempt to impose climate policy from above. The fundamental logic of the United Nations Charter, and therefore of the International Court of Justice which is its guardian, is to preserve world peace by preventing states from attacking one another. State sovereignty, and the sovereign equality of states, are the legal concepts used to express the rule against wars of aggression. This, in turn, requires that states be independent and free from interference in their internal affairs. The logic is laid out with admirable clarity in Articles 2.1 and 2.7 of the UN charter. Yet to say now that climate policy should be an obligation in international law is to put at end to non-interference and sovereignty and to establish, in their place, world government.
The democratic process is abused because discussions about climate policy should be in the parliamentary and public domain, not decided by judges who deliberate in secret. The role of the judge is to say what the law is, it is not to say what it should be. A government must weigh up the competing costs and benefits of a particular policy : cutting emissions will inevitably have some adverse effects even if it is alleged that other effects will be positive. A balance must be struck and it is the role of government to strike it because these matters concern taxation and spending, the core activities of government. A human rights claim, by contrast, invites the judges to look only at the person claiming that his rights have been violated, not at the overall policy issues which have absolutely nothing to do with the law. It is grotesque that the ECHR judges even accepted to hear this case – a fact which also shows how far they have strayed from their judicial role.
Were the International Court of Justice to rule that states do have obligations under international law to implement climate policies, this would validate the idea that there is, or should be, a world government. Yet the international summits which agreed such policies are not democratic bodies : they are not elected and they are not accountable. To give the force of law to such political decisions, even in an advisory opinion, would be to consolidate the idea that policy can or should be made at world level. In the absence of any world democracy, or even any pretence at such, such a ruling would ride roughshod over national democracy and over the national sovereignty which is its essential pre-requisite. In other words, it would establish dictatorship.