We spoke to Ida Edling and Greta Frisk Norin; two young students who are part of the Aurora organisation committed to reversing climate change by suing the Swedish state. The lawsuit accuses the state of not doing enough to mitigate and prevent climate change, and thereby threatening the rights of future generations. The aims of the organisation are two-fold; one of them being the legal goal of forcing the state to comply with its obligations, and the other one being the media goal of spreading awareness and getting people to engage.
Meet parts of the legal team
Greta is from Stockholm and currently studying Public International Law at Uppsala University. Prior to this, she studied Biology and Environmental Science as she has always been interested in the issue of climate change. A little less than a year and a half ago she became involved in Aurora since the youth focus of the organisation inspired her very much. According to Greta, this is very important because children and young people are the ones who will truly feel the effects of climate change if nothing is done to stop it.
Ida is likewise a law student who has always wanted to work with questions of environmental justice. When she was a teen she read about a climate case in Norway, which inspired her to follow a career path in this field. Ever since she was a child, she was interested in how human exploitation of nature is threatening life on our planet, and how its destructive effects can be mitigated. Studying law felt like a great starting point for this as everyone has some sort of relationship with it, and the state has clear legal obligations and commitments.
“I started studying law, because I believe that law is an unignorable tool in this fight.” – Ida Edling
Both Greta and Ida are on the board of the organisation as co-coordinators of the legal team. Ida is also the spokesperson. The board is fully youth-led, with all its members being under the age of 27. The age limit to be part of the organisation is 35 years old and the class action has very young children involved in it, the youngest being 6 years old.
“We see how the young generations are leading so many of the climate fights globally. Scientists have been saying that we are in a climate emergency for decades and the indigenous people have been saying it for thousands of years. But now, youth are saying it and we are saying it so loudly that somehow it has become an even more powerful global movement.” – Greta Frisk Norin
Climate change is a human rights issue
Similar to other climate cases, Aurora’s claims are based entirely on human rights law. Ida explains that this is due to the Swedish human rights framework being more robust compared to the environmental framework. The state has clear and strict obligations to protect human rights and these can be used to fill the gaps where environmental law is lacking. Despite only covering the rights of humans and not other species affected by climate change, human rights law remains the most effective tool.
The Aurora case is based mainly on the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and this is for two reasons. Firstly, this instrument is constitutionally supported in Sweden, meaning it practically is a part of Swedish law, which makes it a strong tool. Secondly, the dynamic interpretation of the Convention allows the rights therein to be interpreted in a broader way that applies to climate change.
“One of the things that makes the ECHR a particularly good legal ground for this, is the idea of it as a living instrument and the fact that it is supposed to be able to change over time and be applicable always.” – Greta Frisk Norin
In the coming days, Aurora is expecting to get a response from the Swedish State and will hopefully be able to progress with the case.