The European Court of Human Rights is set to hear an unprecedented climate lawsuit on Wednesday, spearheaded by six young individuals who are taking a stand against 32 European countries, accusing them of neglecting their duty to address the human-induced climate crisis.
As Young as 11
This legal battle marks a significant milestone, as it is the first climate case to be presented to the European Court of Human Rights, and the claimants are younger than expected!
The lawsuit includes 27 European countries and several countries outside the EU such as Norway, Switzerland, Russia, Turkey and the UK.
The claimants, all between the ages of 11 and 24 and hailing from Portugal, will argue that they are on the frontlines of climate change and urge the court to compel these nations to dramatically accelerate climate action.
The six claimants from Portugal have become the face of a generation that refuses to accept inaction in the face of a looming climate catastrophe.
Reverse the Impacts of Climate Change
Their brave determination and conviction has driven them to challenge 32 European nations, demanding a swift response to reverse the impacts of climate change.
Their plea is not only for themselves but for the global community. They stress the urgent need for meaningful climate action, “Everything started in 2017 with the fires,” one claimant admitted, referring to the Portugese wildfires that claimed the lives over 100 people.
The outcome of this legal battle carries immense weight. A victorious ruling would not only push these 32 countries to intensify their climate efforts but would also provoke similar climate lawsuits worldwide.
Described as a ‘David and Goliath’ case by Gearóid Ó Cuinn, the director of Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), this lawsuit is unparalleled in its scale and potential impact, resulting in 32 states declaring their climate action in front of court.
“How Could We Not Be Scared?”
For these claimants, the consequences of climate change are not a distant threat but a daily reality. They have experienced the adverse effects of intense heat waves in Portugal, impacting their education, mental well-being, and overall quality of life, “The smoke was everywhere,” one said.
The claimants are demanding that the 32 defendant countries drastically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and compel corporations within their borders to cut emissions across their entire supply chains.
The countries being sued dismiss the idea that humans are suffering due to climate change, with the claimants and activists strongly countering these responses, “It makes us worried about our future. How could we not be scared?” a 15-year-old claimant said.
Not Affecting Human Life?
One of the countries under fire by the claimants, Greece, was destroyed by wildfires this summer. Despite this, the government still shockingly declared, “The effects of climate change as recorded so far do not seem to directly affect human life or human health.”
The lawsuit could go various ways, including dismissal on procedural grounds or a landmark ruling that would propel all 32 countries to accelerate their climate action.
A ruling in favor of the claimants would serve as a “binding treaty,” obliging all 32 nations to ramp up their efforts to combat climate change. It would be a historic decision with far-reaching implications.
A positive outcome from this lawsuit could pave the way for more climate-related lawsuits across Europe and the world, bolstering the global fight against climate change.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / AlessandroBiascioli