The Minimum Principle- Representation of Future Generations in Climate Litigation

Can we represent future generations, when they cannot yet authorize a representative to speak on their behalf? Many environmentalists engaging in climate litigation answer this question affirmatively, as apparent from their claims on behalf of future generations. Yet representation of the unborn is problematized in political theory. Apart from the authorization problem, scholars raise a plurality and a non-identity problem. This paper shows these political-theoretical problems re-emerge in climate cases from the Netherlands, Norway, Germany and the EU. At times, courts find elegant solutions for the problems raised in theory. An important role is played by environmental constitutionalism. I submit that there is a way out of the theoretical problems: For future generations, we can enforce the minimum level of existence that is guaranteed by human rights. I call this the ‘minimum principle’.