Wednesday

21st Nov 2018

EU court to hear citizens' climate case against EU

  • Petru Vlad (with hat) is one of the plaintiffs in the so-called People's Climate Case. 'Year by year, the temperatures are increasing.' (Photo: People's Climate Case)

A group of citizens suing the EU over climate change received good news this week when the European General Court accepted their case, which they have dubbed the 'People's Climate Case'.

The case was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on Monday (13 August) under the title 'Carvalho and Others v Parliament and Council'.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • A protest at the 2015 Paris climate conference, where a landmark treaty was signed. A group of citizens is now suing the EU for not complying with the Paris treaty (Photo: Peter Teffer)

"This case is about our common future and we are glad to be one step closer to be heard," said Portuguese plaintiff Armando Carvalho in a press statement.

"The wildfires destroyed my property in 2017. This year, we are once again struggling with massive heatwaves and wildfires in Europe," he said.

"We can not remain silent to this," he added.

Carvalho is joined by 36 others, the majority of them Europeans.

They demand that the court annuls three climate-related laws adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU – which represents national governments.

The laws are a directive on the EU's emissions trading system (ETS); a regulation on greenhouse gas emission reductions in sectors not covered by the ETS like agriculture and transport; and a regulation that governs how land and forest management is counted as neutralising emissions.

The three pieces of legislation are the EU's main legal response to achieve its 2030 climate targets, but the plaintiffs argued that the goals have been set too low to comply with the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The 2030 climate and energy targets were set by EU leaders a year before the international UN climate treaty was signed in the French capital.

"The EU's existing 2030 climate target is too low to protect people and their fundamental rights," said Wendel Trio, director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, in a press statement.

"We firmly believe that this court case will prove that the climate target needs to be significantly raised to ensure a safe future for all of us."

CAN Europe is one of the non-governmental organisations that supports the case and handles its PR, including by having set up a slick website that presents the plaintiffs.

They are families from Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, and Romania. The Association of Young Saami from Sweden is also part of the plaintiffs, as are a family from Kenya and one from Fiji.

"Year by year, the temperatures are increasing," said Romanian plaintiff Petru Vlad on the website.

"There is no longer enough water for our cattle and sheep. I have to take my cattle from 700m altitude to 1400m for decent grass to graze, but especially for water. But I cannot go any further up with our herds, because above 2000m there is only the sky."

It is impossible to predict the plaintiffs' chances for victory.

There is one precedent which may give them hope: a similar case in EU member the Netherlands.

In 2015, a Dutch court said that the government had to "do more to avert the threatening danger caused by climate change".

What was unique about the Dutch ruling was that it was based on what scientists said would be necessary to limit global warming, rather than what was politically agreed.

The Dutch government however has appealed the verdict. A ruling is scheduled for 9 October.

CAN Europe meanwhile said Monday it expected the defendants – i.e. parliament and council – will respond in two months.

The three challenged climate acts were the result of years of negotiations, and it is likely that the EU institutions will resolutely defend the outcomes.

As of Wednesday morning, some 122,000 people have signed a petition expressing solidarity with the plaintiffs.

Germany to let slip 2020 climate target

Prospective governing coalition partners give up on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent in 2020, saying instead they will achieve that in the early 2020s.

Dutch government appeals landmark climate ruling

The Dutch government is appealing a court ruling telling it to take more action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A green activist believes the ruling has changed the "atmosphere" on climate change.

News in Brief

  1. EU commission threatens disciplinary procedure on Italy's budget
  2. MEPs delay vote on greater transparency
  3. Interpol rejects Russian candidate after outcry
  4. Investors seek compensation for Danske Bank losses
  5. Analysis: one-in-four Europeans vote populist
  6. Italy moves to seize Aquarius for illegal waste disposal
  7. EU parliament approves Italian to check European banks
  8. EU agrees tightening rules on foreign strategic investment

Opinion

Crunch time to end overfishing in the EU

What happens when a difficult deadline hits? This is precisely what is being played out in EU fisheries as we approach the landmark legal commitment under the Common Fisheries Policy to end overfishing by 2020.

Opinion

No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected

Following the 2030 renewable target of 32 percent, chair of the European Parliament's environment committee Adina Valean argues in order to reach our climate and energy goals, we need both public and private investment over the next decade and beyond.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  9. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  10. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  11. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue

Latest News

  1. Revealed: 98% of EU 'expert groups' take place in private
  2. EU commission warns Italy on budget, moves towards fines
  3. Challenges for new Franco-German eurozone plan
  4. EU parliament vote strengthens whistleblower protection
  5. Deutsche Bank dragged into Danish bank scandal
  6. New EU human rights sanctions to focus on Africa
  7. Boycott threats mount on eve of Interpol election
  8. EU parliament to renege on transparency promises

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  2. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  4. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  6. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  10. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  11. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us