WEBINAR: Revising the Aarhus Regulation: Securing Adequate Legal Protection for Climate Action?

2035Legitimacy project webinar on 8 June 2021, 09.00-11.15 CEST. The webinar is organised by the Erik Castrén Institute (ECI) at the University of Helsinki and the Centre for Climate Change, Energy and Environmental Law (CCEEL) at the University of Eastern Finland.

The Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and
Access to Justice in Environmental Matters creates a set of participatory environmental rights.
The Convention requires its Parties to collect environmental information and ensure that such
information is disseminated, to provide for the effective participation of members of the
public in environmental decision-making, and to ensure that prohibitive costs or other factors
do not impede access to justice. The Convention’s Compliance Committee, however, has
found that the European Union (EU) has violated its obligations under the Convention due to
insufficient administrative and judicial redress.

The European Commission has recently presented a proposal to revise the Aarhus Regulation
implementing the Aarhus Convention. Although the The Commission’s proposal aims to
improve the EU’s implementation of the Convention, critics have argued that it will not lead to
the EU complying with its obligations on access to justice under the Convention. This webinar
seeks to analyse the Commission’s proposal, with a particular focus on its relevance for EU
climate change law and policy.

Recent developments in case law by the Court of Justice of the EU – including its rejection of the appeal in the People’s Climate Case on procedural grounds – add further salience to the suggested revisions to the Aarhus Regulation. How is the Aarhus Convention relevant for the EU’s climate law decisions? What does the EU’s reading of the Aarhus Convention mean for access to justice matters related to climate change? And what are the implications of the Convention for the EU’s actions in international climate negotiations? These and other questions related to the Regulation’s revisions will be examined with experts from legal academia, environmental NGOs and the European Parliament.

The webinar is part of the 2035Legitimacy project funded by the Academy of Finland, which focuses on the legitimacy of Finland’s planned transition towards a carbon-neutral welfare state by 2035 and the Jean Monnet Network GOVTRAN (Governing the EU’s Climate and Energy Transition in Turbulent Times), funded by the European Commission. Further details can be found on the 2035Legitimacy project website.

Please register for the webinar via the e-form


Moderators: Prof. Harro van Asselt, University of Eastern Finland and Dr. Tiina Paloniitty, University of Helsinki

09:00         Welcome
                   Prof. Päivi Leino-Sandberg, University of Helsinki

09:10         The Other Trinity in the Aarhus Convention
                   Dr. Emily Barritt, King’s College London

09:25         The Revision of the Aarhus Regulation: A Missed Opportunity?
                   Prof. Mariolina Eliantonio, Maastricht University

09:40         Response
                   Anne Friel, ClientEarth

09:50         Short break

09:55         Judicial Protection in the EU Legal Order: Is Climate Any Different?
                  Dr. Ioanna Hadjiyianni, University of Cyprus

10:10         Response
                   Sirpa Pietikäinen, Member of the European Parliament

10:15         The Aarhus Convention and the UNFCCC Negotiations
                   Sebastién Duyck, Center for International Environmental Law

10:30         Response
                   Prof. Harro van Asselt, University of Eastern Finland

10:35         Discussion

11:15         Closing remarks
Prof. Päivi Leino-Sandberg, University of Helsinki