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A landmark human rights victory, International Youth Day, and "Big Oil's Last Lifeline"

With another turn of the seasons, we’re looking ahead and preparing for what the coming months will bring — from World Bank meetings to international climate negotiations. We’ll be sure to keep you in the loop about these happenings and how you can plug in, but first, here’s a snapshot of what you might have missed over the past few weeks: Everyone Has the Right to a Healthy Environment Last month, in a long-awaited vote at the UN General Assembly, 161 countries voted to recognize the universal right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. This historic victory was more than fifty years in the making, and it was only possible because of the tireless work of civil society and Indigenous Peoples organizations who persevered in advocating for this right, and countries like Costa Rica, the Maldives, Morocco, Slovenia, and Switzerland who led the way to the landmark vote. While many countries and local jurisdictions already recognize the right, there is more to be done to make sure it is both protected and fulfilled. Now, we are working with partners to push States to put this right into action. Big Oil’s Last Lifeline: Stories from the Frontlines of Petrochemical Production Known as the birthplace of petrochemicals, West Virginia is now one of the epicenters for petrochemical production in the US, along with Texas and Louisiana. CIEL Senior Campaigner on Plastics and Petrochemicals, Dustin White, has roots in the so-called “Chemical Valley” of Appalachia, and has advocated for environmental justice in the region for nearly a decade. CIEL Board Member, Yvette Arellano, lives in Houston and founded the local environmental justice advocacy organization, Fenceline Watch. Both Dustin and Yvette shared their experiences in a three-part docuseries by the Hip Hop Caucus, Big Oil's Last Lifeline, which sounds the alarm on how the industry perpetuates environmental racism. Watch the series here. Celebrating UN International Youth Day On August 12, we marked UN International Youth Day, which highlights the vital role of youth in environmental activism. CIEL is proud to have many passionate, talented young people on our team, two of whom were in the spotlight this summer. #BreakFreeFromPlastic interviewed CIEL Program Associate on Plastics Policy, Rachel Radvany, about why the global plastics treaty matters for youth around the world. And at the Triple Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions (multilateral environment agreements addressing hazardous wastes and chemicals) CIEL Senior Attorney Giulia Carlini jointly organized and moderated a panel discussion with the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) about youth participation in implementing these conventions. CIEL in the Wild Over the last few months, many of us have taken a little time away from our computers to rest and recharge. In the process, we’ve learned new things and expanded our perspectives: Cleaning plastic waste out of a river during a volunteer event in Bali reinvigorated commitments to working toward a global plastics treaty… Visiting colleagues in different offices provided opportunities to bridge cultural divides and strengthen relationships, both in and out of the office… Confronting sea level rise in the Caribbean first-hand deepened understanding for what communities living with this existential threat face… And spending quality time with family across three generations sparked exchanges about the evolution of sustainable living over decades. Defending our right to a healthy planet is not just an intellectual exercise. Our experiences outside the office connect us to our mission in new ways so that we when we return to our work we are ready to pick up where we left off — and with new energy and renewed inspiration.

CIEL in the News

  • Following new research calculating the economic impacts of countries’ greenhouse gas emissions, CIEL helped contextualize the study’s findings and lay out the implications for climate accountability litigation. Our analysis informed stories in the Associated Press, The Guardian, Politico, CTV, and more.

  • As lead counsel in one of the biggest corporate accountability legal actions ever filed, CIEL Board Member Sharon Eubanks shared her insights in The Guardian on why we may be approaching a legal tipping point for fossil fuel companies and the spin masters that work for them.

  • Director of CIEL’s Climate and Energy Program, Nikki Reisch, and CEO Carroll Muffett joined Amy Westervelt in an episode of her podcast, Drilled, to analyze the discrepancies between the underlying science on carbon removal technologies and what is reflected in the most recent IPCC report, clarifying what the IPCC actually said about the potential of this tech.

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