Centre for Climate Law and Sustainability Studies (CLASS) Centre for Climate Law and Sustainability Studies (CLASS)
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Photo: Renzo D'Souza on UnsplashThe end of climate-washing? Sustainability and climate claims get tighter rules

 by Monika Feigerlová and Rita Simon

27 February 2024

On 17 January 2024, the European Parliament approved amendments to the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive and the Consumer Rights Directive that relate, among others, to climate-washing and product durability. Climate neutrality’ claims for products and services based on carbon offsets are to be banned.

The legislation is part of the legislative framework for consumer empowerment for green transformation and aims to protect consumers from misleading green communications. According to a 2020 European Commission study, half of environmental claims are false or misleading. It is not easy for consumers to distinguish which messages are true and which are 'greenwashing'. The aim of the amending directive is to provide consumers with clear, relevant and reliable information on products and services. This will enable them to make more informed purchasing decisions and promote sustainable consumption. At the same time, it protects the competitiveness of companies that do indeed produce environmentally friendly products. Číst dále  

Photo: Chuttersnap on UnsplashAn overoptimistic update of the National Emissions Reduction Programme of the Czech Republic?

by Rita Simon with contribution of Kamila Balounová

14. December 2023

The Czech Republic met its national emission reduction commitments for all identified pollutants by 2020. Emissions of NOx and SO2 were cut significantly between 2005 and 2020. In contrast, emissions of NH3 and PM2.5 have remained constant in the last two years and NOx values increased in 2021 compared to 2020. In addition to the concentration of hazardous air pollutants, the NPSE analysis should also address whether achieving the currently set immission limits was conducted in line with the new World Health Organisation (WHO) air quality recommendations for 2021 and whether sufficient protection of human health is guaranteed. Číst dále  



Photo: William Krause on Unsplash

Environmental damage in Ukraine: Possible solutions from the perspective of international law

By Hana Müllerová

20 May 2023

I should begin this text by stating, firstly, that the situation in Ukraine is contrary to international law and, secondly, that the fact that I have chosen the topic of environmental damage does not detract from the fact that tragic damage to human life and health and enormous human suffering are occurring there as a result of Russian aggression. I will describe the environmental damage only from the perspective of international law, not from a substantive perspective; this has already been dealt with in separate texts or conferences. It is sufficient here to state briefly at the outset that the damage is extensive and difficult and costly to repair. These are damages to land (contamination, mines), water (pollution), air (e.g. emissions of pollutants from fires or destroyed industry), forests (fires), climate (intensive burning of fossil fuels with increased greenhouse gas emissions), as well as damages caused by the enormous production of waste (e.g. demolition waste in bombed-out cities) or negative impacts on biodiversity.

There are several areas of international law that can be considered for the purpose of sanctioning environmental damage in Ukraine. Without being an exhaustive list, international humanitarian and war law, international criminal law and international environmental law can be mentioned in particular. A second line of reasoning may lead institutionally and ask what international bodies or courts could be approached in this matter. This paper will address each of these issues in turn and will also attempt to indicate the limits that international law in these different areas has in relation to the scope of environmental protection in general and in relation to its potential application to the current situation in Ukraine and Russia in particular.
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Photo: PixabayThe Czech Republic (not) to strengthen water protection at the constitutional level 

By Tereza Snopková

14 March 2023

In November 2022, the Czech government opened the proposal of the Czech Ministry of the Environment to strengthen water protection at the constitutional level for public comments. The proposal was submitted in accordance with the Government's Programme Statement  (“We consider the protection of water and its sources to be a national interest; therefore, we will present a proposal for constitutional water protection by the end of 2022.“); however, it has now been heavily criticised by other ministries and professional bodies.

What was the main criticism?

First and foremost, the effort to change the Constitution at all was criticised. In principle, the Constitution is the supreme law of the state and it should not be amended very often. The opponents of the proposal stated that the Constitution forms the core of the legal order of the state and should not react to the current climate, nor be a reflection of the needs and social mood of the moment. They also pointed out that, after the floods of 1997 and 2002, the need for flood prevention was felt urgently, and after the drought period of 2013 to 2020, drought prevention a is similarly urgent needy. The question is whether, after emphasising one element, a need to emphasise another should occur. Such an approach would be contrary to the quest for stability and the relative immutability of constitutional laws.

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Photo: Alexander Abero on UnsplashIs Article 15 of the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Effective to Combat Climate Change?*

By Monika Feigerlová & Betül Karagedik

9 March 2023

What Obligations Does the Proposal by the European Commission for a Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Impose upon Greenhouse Gas Emitters?

Climate change and its adverse consequences have been considered as a human rights issue by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations Human Rights Council, and in emerging climate change litigation against companies. Climate change undoubtedly impacts (or is likely to impact in the future) the enjoyment of human rights by people throughout the world, particularly the right to life, to health, to family life, access to water, and the right to a healthy environment.

The relationship between climate due diligence, on one hand, and human rights and environmental due diligence, on the other, is a controversial topic. It should be stated that sustainability, which is at the core of the planned Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), is a broader concept than preventing dangerous climate change. The proposal by the European Commission (hereafter: Commission Proposal) contains with Article 15 a separate provision on combatting climate change – seemingly outside of the due diligence provisions. Despite changes and compromises proposed by the Council of the European Union in its ‘General Approach’ (hereafter: Council Proposal), the question remains whether the proposals call, at least to some extent, for climate due diligence.

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Photo: Olympia at PixabayThe International Olympic movement, sustainability and “green” OG. Is that even possible?

By Kamila Balounová

6 March 2023

The Olympic Games are one of the most watched sporting events in the world. Once every four years, athletes from all over the world meet in one place to compete in Olympic sports and win Olympic medals for their countries. The Olympic Games are the largest and most spectacular sporting event in the world. Given its high visibility, internationality, importance and impact on the environment, the hosting of the Olympic Games and the sustainability of the Olympic Movement have become highly debated in recent years. The aim of the commentary is to reflect on whether the International Olympic movement (IOC) is succeeding in promoting sustainability in the hosting of the Olympic Games. 

The International Olympic movement started on the path of sustainability in 2014, at its session in Monaco, where the so-called Olympic Agenda 2020 was adopted, a year before the UN Agenda 2030, and sustainability was one of the three pillars of this Agenda. In 2021, the IOC adopted a new agenda to replace Agenda 2020, the Olympic Agenda 2020+5. In October 2021, in line with the Paris Agreement, the IOC committed to reduce direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions, specifically by 30% by 2024 and 50% by 2030, and to offset more than 100% of residual emissions through the Olympic Forest project, which will contribute to the UN-backed Great Green Wall project in Africa and help the IOC move closer to becoming a climate positive organisation.

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Ilustrative picture: Earth Stripes CC 4.0

Why did the first Czech climate ruling fail at the Supreme Administrative Court?

By Hana Müllerová, Tereza Snopková, Eva Balounová and Adam Novák

1 March 2023

On 20 February 2023, we witnessed a new act in Czech climate litigation. The Czech Supreme Administrative Court overturned the partially successful first Czech climate judgment and returned the case to the Municipal Court in Prague for further proceedings. In this commentary, we will identify which legal arguments the Supreme Administrative Court disagreed with in the original decision and why, highlight that the reversal of the first instance decision does not mean that the Czech ministries are acting adequately to safeguard the climate, and outline what further developments we can expect in this case.

In June 2022, the Municipal Court in Prague, as a court of first instance, substantially upheld the plaintiffs in the first-ever Czech climate lawsuit. It found in favour of its mitigation part, confirming that the Czech state was not doing enough to achieve the Paris Agreement's goals. We commented on the judgment in the post titled ‘First Czech climate action largely successful’ of 21 June 2022 in this blog. The decision could be seen a pleasant surprise, as the relative success came in the very first case in which the Czech courts, otherwise generally rather conservative and not very sympathetic to environmental issues, dealt with climate law. The verdict was appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court, and now we have had its opinion of the case.

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Photo: David Lee on UnsplashDieselgate follow-on judgments – manipulated “temperature window” software

Rita Simon

21 February 2023

The last summer, the CJEU published the second wave of Dieselgate judgments, based on the preliminary ruling references from three different Austrian courts, challenging the permissibility of the follow-on software replacing the inadmissible “switch Diesel software,” which operated the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system solely during the EC type-approval procedures; but switched it off during normal use on the road. However, the new software finally performed the emission control system for vehicles both on the road and in the laboratory; but only within a so-called “temperature window”, at an external temperature between 15 and 33 C, provided that the car was driving less than 1000 m above sea level. These  three current CJEU cases focus on the adequacy of the European vehicle type approval framework and the enforceability of individual and collective consumer rights from a different perspective. In this article, we summarise short the background to these cases and comment on the outcomes.  Read more


Photo: Matthias Heyde on UnsplashThe modernized Energy Charter Treaty does not address climate emergency

By Monika Feigerlová

9 September 2022

At the end of June, the Contracting Parties to the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) concluded two years of negotiations for a modernised ECT (about which we informed in our comment titled "Termination of the Energy Charter Treaty for a ‘Cheap’ Clean Energy Transition?" of 24 May 2021). Although it was anticipated that the negotiations would be finished before COP 26 in 2021 in order to be successful, it appears that the parties were ultimately able to reach an “agreement in principle” to modernise the ECT. According to the European Commission, the modernised ECT will promote sustainable investment and meet the Paris Agreement's climate goals. This is in contrast with calls of some EU Member States for the ECT to be terminated.

The final review of the text of the modernised agreement was expected to be available to the Contracting Parties by the end of August 2022 for adoption at the Energy Charter Conference in November 2022. The public communication explaining the main changes contained in the agreement in principle, available at the Energy Charter Secretariat’s website, allow us to reflect on the points of the new ECT relevant to the fight against climate change. Read more


Photo: Josef Benes, Czech Climate LitigationFirst Czech climate action largely successful

By Hana Müllerová

21 June 2022

On 15 June 2022, the Municipal Court in Prague ruled on the first piece of Czech climate litigation, largely upholding it. In this commentary, we want to recapitulate the story of Czech climate litigation so far (which may not be over yet) and highlight how the court has dealt with the plaintiffs' claims. We note that we are relying here on the transcription of the oral pronouncement of the court's decision, the official written version of which, with a detailed statement of reasons, will be available in several weeks.  For background information on the decision, we can also refer to the press release of the Climate Action Association (in English), and the first deeper analysis has been given by Martin Abel on Jine pravo (in Czech only).


The first Czech climate lawsuit was filed by a group of plaintiffs in April 2021 against four ministries (of environment, industry and trade, agriculture and transport) and the Czech government for their lack of activity in the field of climate change mitigation and adaptation.  Read more


Photo: Renzo d'Souza on UnsplashClimate-induced displacement: A human rights-based approach to filling the existing legal gap

By  Irene Sacchetti*

11 February 2022

As global average temperatures continue to increase due to States’ non-compliance with international climate obligations, UN agencies estimate that more than 1 billion people could be forcibly displaced by 2050 due to climate change impacts, which are making their land unhabitable. However, there is no specific provision nor a comprehensive legal framework under existing international law designed to respond to cross-border migration due to climate change effects. The purpose of this article is to explore whether the protection of those uprooted by climate change impacts - inappropriately called “climate refugees”- can be possible following a human rights-based approach, instead of pressure on the current international definition of “refugee”. Finally, I will compare how the judiciary and non-judicial bodies’ recent decisions at international and domestic level approach this unprecedented legal phenomenon, starting from a human rights perspective. 

Climate Change as a driver of migration

Far from being a future concern, anthropogenic climate change is already triggering massive and negative environmental consequences, projected to impact people’s living conditions and natural ecosystems exponentially in future years.  Read more



Photo:  American Public Power Association on UnsplashThe Commission’s investigation on the arbitral award against Spain: The incompatibility between EU law and the Energy Charter Treaty emerges again

By Aleksi Heikkinen*

11 February 2022

Spain has had its fair share of investment disputes for alleged breaches under the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) due to the modifications of its renewable energy scheme. One of them is Antin v. Spain- case, which was ruled in favour of Antin, and Spain was obliged by the Arbitral Tribunal to pay 112 million euros for compensation for the breaches of the investment protection clauses under the Energy Charter Treaty. However, in July 2021, the European Commission launched an investigation suspecting that paying the compensation would constitute an illegal state aid under EU’s competition rules. The Commission cited also the famous Achmea- decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union, and stated once again, that solving the investment disputes by the Arbitral Tribunals under the ECT would endanger the autonomy of the EU law and mutual trust between the Member States. This post is mean to give some background to renewable energy disputes in Spain and overview to the complex legal questions that stem from the conflict of two legal regimes in the context of applying Energy Charter Treaty in intra-EU disputes.   Read more


Photo:  Lukáš Lehotský on UnsplashThe Czech government considers EU taxonomy conditions for nuclear and gas too strict

By Monika Feigerlová

2 January 2022

The EU Taxonomy has just started to resonate in the Czech public debate although it was adopted over a year ago. The reason is the Commission’s recent proposal to recognise nuclear energy and natural gas as Taxonomy-aligned (green) activities eligible for sustainable financing, provided certain criteria are met. Nuclear energy plays an important role in the Czech energy mix. Is the inclusion of nuclear energy and natural gas in the Taxonomy a success or a failure from the Czech perspective?

Based on the Commission’s draft proposal amending Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/2139 as regards economic activities in certain energy sectors, which was leaked to the media, nuclear energy power and natural gas can be considered ‘transitional environmentally sustainable‘ investments, provided they meet specific requirements.   Read more


Photo: USGS on Unsplash.jpgDo we have a human right to a stable and safe climate?

By Irene Sacchetti*

6 January 2022

The severe and increasingly pressing consequences of climate change are not future threats, but are real and apparent nowadays. Direct and indirect implications for the enjoyment of fundamental human rights are already underway. As climate stability, together with a healthy environment, are a precondition for the full enjoyment of fundamental rights, it is relevant to question whether there is a right to a stable climate under international law and domestic constitutional provisions around the world. Further, the new wave of climate litigation claiming the recognition of such a right corroborates the imperative need to acknowledge the importance of climate stability for present and future generations.

Natural disasters and slow-onset processes are already taking place: rising average temperatures, more frequent drought and wild fires leading to desertification of the land in some regions of the world, shifts in rainfall patterns, melting glaciers, the rise in global sea levels and the spread of tropical and vector-borne diseases are just some of the evidence.  Read more


Photo: Tapio Haaja on UnsplashReform of the Climate Change Act of Finland

By Aleksi Heikkinen*

22 December 2021

The Climate Change Act, which entered into force in June 2015, is a national climate law of Finland, setting national climate targets. The Act itself is a so called “framework act”, meaning that it will impose obligations only on state authorities, and not private individuals or companies.  The main steering instrument under the Act is the planning system for climate policy setting a number of plans, which are meant to help reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and also adapting to climate change in Finland. The law does not directly set measures or actions to be taken to reduce emissions or adapt to climate change, but they are set and defined in the plans that are required by the Act, and also in other legislation. The law also sets obligations for government authorities to monitor emissions and report them in order to follow how reaching the climate objectives is progressing, so that it is easier to evaluate whether extra measures are required to reach the set targets. The Climate Change Act prescribes appointing a panel of experts (Finland’s Climate Panel) from different backgrounds comprising an independent scientific expert body with an objective to provide data to policy- makers to support their science-based decision-making.   Read more

Photo: Artturi Jalli on UnsplashFIT for 55 package: Implications for the EU’s aviation sector

By Aleksi Heikkinen*

25 November 2021

The aviation sector is a major emitter contributing approximately 2-3% of total global CO2 emissions, and if the sector was a country, it would count among the top ten emitters in the world. In 2018, at the EU level, airlines were responsible for 3,7% of EU’s total emissions and 15,7% of transport emissions. The EU was also responsible for 15 % of global aviation emissions that year. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic it was estimated that the demand for global aviation could triple between 2020 and 2050. The sector is one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and despite the efforts to mitigate the climate impacts of the sector and constant improvements in fuel efficiency over the years, the sustained growth of the sector has outpaced the benefits of these developments. Therefore, stricter policy measures are needed to decarbonise the sector and mitigate its climate impacts. While the EU is raising its ambitions with the climate targets, the aviation sector is increasingly coming under scrutiny. The Commissions legislative proposals in the “Fit for 55” package will affect the aviation sector as well, and this post is aims to give an overview of the most relevant instruments of the package concerning this sector in particular, and how the EU is planning to shift it into more a sustainable direction.   Read more


Photo: Annie Spratt on UnsplashThe inclusion of women within the international climate change regime

By Irene Sacchetti*

3 November 2021

Among the complex and pressing challenges that climate change is posing at multiple levels, rising gender disparities as a consequence of climate change require specific attention due to the cross-cutting nature of the issue. The progressive recognition given to women’s participation in climate policy-making under the international climate change legal regime over the past twenty years reflects the growing awareness that gender equality is a key component in achieving climate change goals. In this text, I would like to stress the most significant steps achieved in encapsulating gender balance and women’s rights within the international climate change regime, by underlining that tackling gender inequality represents a unique opportunity to combat adverse effects of climate change.

1. Women in the context of climate change: an overview

Women play a prominent and dual role within the climate change debate, where gender inequality and climate change impacts are intertwined. Adverse effects of climate change are experienced by women and men differently due to the persistence of gender inequalities around the world. In fact, among other climate-related negative implications, climate change is not gender neutral, but exacerbates and deepens already long-lasting gender inequalities as well as gender-based violence. Read more


Photo: Lawrence Makoona on UnsplashThe emergence of climate justice 

By Pamela Alvarez*

25 October 2021

Climate change has now become a global concern and, as national climate legislation develops worldwide, there is a growing receptiveness to overcome obstacles in terms of access to justice. Today we are witness to a more collaborative approach to combating the effects of climate change, involving coalitions between various actors that include NGOs, citizens and local authorities. Suits based on liability are increasing before national courts, thanks to associations that demand States to take responsibility for the inadequate implementation of climate policies.

Local courts are proving increasingly effective to advance climate litigation, as national judges are more inclined to assume their responsibility when confronted with inadequate laws or public policies to combat climate change. By taking international agreements into consideration, national courts reinforce the principles of climate law and strengthen the ongoing discourse between the political and the judicial spheres and, most importantly, between law and science. Moreover, the urgency of the ongoing climate crisis and the abundance of litigation at the international level demonstrate that the vast majority of national litigation can be addressed with stricter climate-related legislation. In this context, lawsuits have emerged that support the perception that the legal regimes set in place are insufficient and do not go far enough in tackling climate change. By interpreting environmental law, the courts are establishing climate remedies that contribute to the further development of climate justice, by placing such issues at the core of the legal debate.  Read more


Photo: Federico Di Dio on UnsplashClimate Change and the Expansion of Airports in Court: Are there any Arguments at all? A few Remarks on Unsuccessful Cases against Airport Expansions in Europe

By Eva Balounová

31 May 2021

In recent years, national courts in Europe have dismissed climate change arguments against the expansion of airports in London, Vienna, and Prague. What were the reasons for the courts’ decisions and is there any room for future successful lawsuits? In this blog post, I answer this question by examining the reasoning of the courts and proposing other views based on current approaches in climate change law and existing case law.

The development of a third runway at Heathrow Airport in South East England was supported in the Airport National Policy Statement (ANPS) designated by the Secretary of State for Transport in 2018 under the Planning Act. The ANPS was challenged based on its alleged failure to take into account the Paris Agreement ratified by the United Kingdom (UK) in 2016. The Court of Appeal held that the ANPS was unlawful; however, this decision was overturned in December 2020 by the UK Supreme Court (R (on the application of Friends of the Earth Ltd and others) v Heathrow Airport Ltd [2020] UKSC 52). 

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Photo:  Bart Van Dijk on UnsplashTermination of the Energy Charter Treaty for a ‘Cheap’ Clean Energy Transition?

By Monika Feigerlová

24 May 2021

In recent months the Energy Charter Treaty (‘ECT’) has been subject to a number of debates. ECT that originated at the beginning of 1990s is a multilateral agreement for cross-border cooperation in the energy industry, including trade, transit, investments, and energy efficiency. Among its approx. fifty contracting parties are all Member States of the EU as well as the EU itself. Negotiations on ECT’s modernization are currently undergoing at the initiative of the EU. However, at the backdrop of the fight against climate change the pace of the negotiations appears too slow and inadequate despite the fact that half of the contracting states of the ECT are also parties to the Paris Agreement.

The EU underlines that, in line with the Paris Agreement and EU’s long term decarbonisation and energy transition policies, it is bound to discourage all further fossil fuel investments, unless they are consistent with a clearly defined pathway towards climate neutrality in accordance with the long-term objectives of the Paris Agreement and the best available science.

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Photo: Marcel Eberle on UsplashCzech Republic’s First Climate Litigation

By Tereza Snopková and Hana Müllerová

15 May 2021

In April 2021, the Czech Republic saw its first ever climate change litigation filed in court. It thus joined many other countries whose governments are also facing legal action due to an insufficient climate response. The defendant governments are accused of unambitious attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and insufficient implementation of preventative climate protection policies and measures. The following text aims to examine the legal framework of the Czech climate litigation, the arguments it is based on and its significance.

Who are the plaintiffs?

The plaintiffs include multiple entities from different sectors. The primary litigant is The Czech Climate Litigation (Klimatická žaloba ČR) Association, which initiated and took charge of the litigation preparations. The Association was created in 2019 in response to the Czech state’s inaction regarding the preparation and implementation of adequate climate change mitigation measures and commitments. The second plaintiff is a municipality (a small village). Other plaintiffs include individual persons and representative groups of citizens affected by climate change in multiple ways: farmers, foresters and city residents. The variety of plaintiffs is important for three reasons. Primarily, it highlights the scope and diversity of the problems relating to climate change. Secondly, it emphasises not only the adverse effects and their impact on the rights of multiple entities, but also the exacerbation of the issue due to the state’s inertia on the matter. Finally, the variety of plaintiffs is legally significant in determining the legal standing of the litigation because it increases the likelihood of the litigation being heard on merit alone (i.e. the prospect of the court accepting the plaintiffs’ legal standing and expressing an opinion on the content of the litigation).

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Illegal logging on Pirititi indigenous Amazon lands with a repository of round logs on May 8, 2018 Felipe Werneck/Ibama via Flickr via AP (Creative Commons 2.0)On Ecocide

By Hana Müllerová

26 March 2021

This past January, a request for a preliminary examination of the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. He is accused of crimes against humanity over his destructive environmental policies, which account for a surge in the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.

The Brazilian President is reportedly a notorious climate change sceptic. Since he took office in 2019, the deforestation of the rainforest has soared as high as nearly 50%. Scientists have warned that such destructive policies could push the Amazon rainforest to an irreversible tipping point, turning it into a savannah. As the tropical rainforest significantly helps to balance the climate of the planet, its destruction is adversely impacting not only Brazil, but also the rest of the globe. The submission was referred by Indigenous leaders, whose territory is diminished and destructed by the deforestation, and who argue that the environmental damage amounts to crimes against humanity in its nature and intensity. Such argumentation aligns with the current trend of calls for the crime of ‘ecocide’ to be recognised as an international crime at the ICC.

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Credits: Wikimedia CommonsThe Czech Constitutional Court has confirmed the limited participation of environmental organisations in administrative proceedings

By Alena Chaloupková

16 February 2021

At the end of January 2021, the Czech Constitutional Court issued an important decision relating to the participation of environmental NGOs in proceedings concerning the environment. In its judgment No. Pl. ÚS 22/17 of 26 January 2021, the Constitutional Court confirmed the constitutionality of the amendment of Section 70 of the Act on the Conservation of Nature and Landscape by a narrow majority of eight judges confirming to seven opposing. The amendment limited public participation in the proceedings carried out under other acts – in particular under the Building Act – as of 1 January 2018.

To fully understand the significance of this judgment, we need to briefly summarise the public participation in administrative proceedings relating to the protection of the environment, thus far. Environmental organisations (i.e. groups that seek to protect nature, the environment or human health) can now participate in the administrative proceedings and defence of environmental interests in proceedings pursuant to four different acts.

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Photo: Martina Janochová at PixabayThe end of coal in 2038: What the decision of the Czech Coal Commission entails

By Zuzana Vrbová

21 December 2020

On Friday, December 4, the final decision of the Coal Commission was made. The role of the Commission is to advise the Czech government in the process of coal phase-out, both in the form of coal mining and its use for energy purposes. According to its recommendation, Czechia should abandon coal in 2038. In the final stage of its decision-making, the Commission was deciding between the years 2033, 2038, and 2043. Unsurprisingly, 2043 was promoted by industry interest groups, while ecologists, as well as some scientists, recommended the earliest date. It is mainly environmental organizations that are now criticizing the decision, especially concerning the distribution of power in the debates within the Commission. Two representatives decided not to continue being involved in the work of the Commission as a form of protest against the decision-making processes within the body in which the Minister of Industry and Trade had a leading role.   

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Photo: Marcin Jozwiak at UnsplashCourts to decide the future of the Czech climate change policy: Preparation of the first Czech climate litigation

By Zuzana Vrbová

17 September 2020

Almost a year and a half ago, a group of concerned citizens decided to establish an association called Climate Action (in Czech: 'Klimatická žaloba'). Its main objective is to prepare and file a petition (administrative action) with the court, which should then decide whether the Czech Government is doing enough to fulfill the ultimate objectives of the Paris Agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Following lawsuits in the Netherlands and, more recently, Ireland, the Czech Republic will then be another country with its own a climate change litigation case. Climate litigation has grown in importance, especially over the past decade.

The Association was registered in spring 2019 and currently has around 150 associates. In order to file the petition, Klimatická žaloba approached an established environmental law firm, Frank Bold, which conducted an analysis regarding the lawsuit’s prospects. A year later, in spring 2020, the work on the draft petition began.   

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Photo: CC Creative CommonsPreparation of the new Czech Building Act causing outrage in green circles

By Hana Müllerová

30 August 2020

On 24 August, the Czech Government pushed through the draft new Czech Building Act that now moves to the Parliament. The new legislation is to replace the law in force of 2006. The main aim of the recodification is to simplify and speed up the planning and building permitting processes. Due to an international comparison report in 2019, the periods in Czechia usually needed before construction work can begin, covering spatial planning processes and permit procedures, are extraordinarily long, placing the country in the 156th position out of 190. In ordinary cases, handling the building permit can take up to five years, while for big transport infrastructure constructions it can last over ten years. The causes lie in a combination of factors, including extensive, complicated and often-changing legislation (there have been more than 20 amendments to the Building Act since its adoption in 2006), inadequate resources in public administration (personnel, financial, expertise) and high demand for building new premises, both dwelling and commercial.   

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Photo: Analogicus at PixabayThe Czech government to compensate big industries for higher electricity prices caused by the climate measures – a vicious circle of the EU emissions trading scheme

By Zuzana Vrbová

15 July 2020

The Czech Republic has to protect its industry, no matter what it costs. For a long time, this has been the Czech politicians’ rhetoric with regard to ever-tightening environmental regulation. During the Covid-19 crisis, concerns about the future of domestic industry grew even more. It is probably no coincidence that, during that time, the Czech Ministry of the Environment produced two legislative proposals providing financial support to some Czech industrial sectors. However, state aid will only be provided to the biggest enterprises.

Not only electricity and heat producers have lately been concerned about the rising price of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) allowance. The system was introduced by the European EU ETS Directive 2003/87/EC (‘EU ETS Directive’). It is one of the main EU climate policy instruments; its purpose is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a market mechanism.   

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Photo: Zbynek Burival on UnsplashA new wave of solar disputes on the Czech horizon?

By Monika Feigerlová

18 June 2020

On 27 April 2020 the Czech government approved a draft bill amending the Act on Promoted Energy Sources (Act no. 165/2012 Coll). If approved by Parliament, the proposed amendments that are planned to take effect from 1 January 2021 will bring significant changes to the support provided by the State to producers of electricity from renewable energy sources (RES). The proposal would primarily affect support for photovoltaic installations, which, according to the statement of the Czech Minister of Industry and Trade, will bring savings of up to ten billion Czech crowns.  

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Photo by Freddie Marriage on UnsplashCzech climate policies: are they enough?

By Zuzana Vrbová

2 March 2020

The Czech Republic is currently experiencing the consequences of climate change on an unprecedented scale – an increasing number of extreme weather events, such as droughts, heat waves and floods, to which climate change contributes, has over time become a regular annual occurrence. The Czech Republic is located in Central Europe with a population of 10.5 million. The average annual temperature has risen by 0.8 °C in the last 50 years and it is expected that it will grow further by approximately 0.24 °C every 10 years. The frequency of the summer and tropical days increased over the previous decade as well. Regarding water sources, the country is fully dependent on precipitation, since there are no rivers entering the country from neighbouring states. Changes in rainfall patterns cause ongoing long-term droughts and impair water retention in the soil. Partly because of these facts, Czech society is becoming increasingly interested in climate change issues. Greater media coverage and student protests also play an important role in building public opinion. According to the April 2019 Eurobarometer 71% of Czech respondents consider climate change to be a very serious problem (compared to the EU average of 79%) – which constitutes a growth of 14% between 2017 and 2019 (while among other EU states this growth it grew by only 5%).

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Photo by  L.W. on UnsplashThe Centre for Climate Law and Sustainability Studies Launched

 By Hana Müllerová

27 February 2020

There has been a long tradition of environmental law studies in Czech legal scholarship. The branch was established as soon as it was made possible after the 1989 breakdown of the communist regime (which had side-lined environmental protection as incompatible with centrally planned economic development). In the 1990s, several key environmental laws were prepared and approved, some of them even in force to this day. I remember the first Czech environmental law textbook of 1995 that I used during my Master’s studies: it was a thin paperback containing the texts of the fundamental environmental laws, with an introductory chapter explaining the main terms, principles and rules of the new field. Since then, the branch has consolidated and increased in both quantity and structure, partly due to implementing EU environmental legislation. However, in the last few years, climate change has posed qualitatively new challenges that may only be partially covered by environmental legislation, whether at the national, EU or international level. Environmental laws do not appear to offer the complete range of suitable instruments to tackle the complex issues that climate change presents to society.

It seems that the 1990s’ situation regarding environmental law is now present in climate law. At the theoretical level, climate law has not yet been considered a separate law branch in the Czech legal scholarship.  

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