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Brazil

Six Youths v. Minister of Environment and Others

Jurisdiction: 14th Federal Court of Sao Paulo


Principle law(s): Law 12.187/2009, establishing the National Policy on Climate Change (NPCC), regulated by Decree 7.390/2010


Side A: Six Youth Plaintiffs (Individual)


Side B: Federal Union of Brazil (Government)


Side B: Ernesto Henrique Fraga Araújo (Individual government)


Side B: Ricardo de Aquino Salles ( Minister of the Environment) (Individual government)


Core objectives: Whether Brazil's updated NDC violated the Paris Agreement and Brazil's constitution by decreasing its ambition.


Summary
This is a Popular Action, with a request for an injunction, filed by young activists who are members of the Engajamundo and Fridays for Future Brasil movements, against Ricardo de Aquino Salles (in his capacity as Minister of the Environment), Ernesto Henrique Fraga Araújo (former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs) and the Federal Union. 

Youths claimed that the 2020 submission of its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) was less ambitious than the previous one, presented in 2015, in breach of the Paris Agreement (enacted by Federal Decree 9.073/2017). The 2020 Brazilian NDC would allow the country to reach the year 2030 emitting between 200 million and 400 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) more than proposed in 2015. Youths claimed that the reduction of Brazil's climate ambition through the use of accounting artifice constitutes "climate pedaling" and requested an injunction until the effects of the new NDC were determined and it was updated in accordance with the progressiveness required by the Paris Agreement. Youth asked that: (i) the 2020 NDC be declared null; (ii) the defendants present an NDC with the percentages of reduction of CO2e emissions increased beyond the necessary limit, aiming at the fulfillment of the commitment of progressiveness of the Paris Agreement; and (iii) condemning the defendants to pay damages for their actions. 

A monocratic decision was handed down from the Federal Civil Court of São Paulo that recognized the competence of the Court, since the Paris Agreement was signed and promulgated internally, but rejected the injunction, as it was not possible, summarily, to state that the new NDC did not reflect the greatest possible ambition. After the decision, the defendants filed a contestation, alleging preliminarily the absence of domestic jurisdiction to analyze the matter on the grounds that: (i) acts of sovereignty practiced at the international level are not subject to internal control by the ordinary civil jurisdiction and bind States in terms of foreign relations; (ii) no connecting elements between the subjection of the matter to national jurisdiction were presented; (iii) the Paris Agreement provided for its own dispute settlement mechanism; and (iv) there was no harmful act, as Brazil continues to play a leading role in mitigating the effects of climate change with the greatest possible ambition, in addition to the update being in line with the international best practices.
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