Six Young People Take 32 Countries To Court Over Climate Change

An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: What I felt was fear,” says Claudia Duarte Agostinho as she remembers the extreme heatwave and fires that ripped through Portugal in 2017 and killed more than 100 people. “The wildfires made me really anxious about what sort of future I would have.” Claudia, 24, her brother Martim, 20, and her sister Mariana, 11, are among six young Portuguese people who have filed a lawsuit against 32 governments, including all EU member states, the UK, Norway, Russia, Switzerland and Turkey. They accuse the countries of insufficient action over climate change and failing to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions enough to hit the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to 1.5C. The case is the first of its kind to be filed at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg. If it is successful, it could have legally-binding consequences for the governments involved. The first hearing in the case is being held on Wednesday.

Aged from 11 to 24, the six claimants argue that the forest fires that have occurred in Portugal each year since 2017 are a direct result of global warming. They claim that their fundamental human rights — including the right to life, privacy, family life and to be free from discrimination — are being violated due to governments’ reluctance to fight climate change. They say they have already been experiencing significant impacts, especially because of extreme temperatures in Portugal forcing them to spend time indoors and restricting their ability to sleep, concentrate or exercise. Some also suffer from eco-anxiety, allergies and respiratory conditions including asthma. None of the young applicants is seeking financial compensation.

Lawyers representing the six young claimants are expected to argue in court that the 32 governments’ current policies are putting the world on course for 3C of global warming by the end of the century. […] In separate and joint responses to the case, the governments argue that the claimants have not sufficiently established that they have suffered as a direct consequence of climate change or the Portuguese wildfires. They claim there is no evidence to show climate change poses an immediate risk to human life or health, and also argue that climate policy is beyond the scope of the European Court of Human Rights jurisdiction. “These six young people from Portugal, who are ordinary individuals concerned about their future, will be facing 32 legal teams, hundreds of lawyers representing governments whose inaction is already harming them,” says Gearoid O Cuinn, director of Global Legal Action Network (GLAN).

“So this is a real David vs Goliath case that is seeking a structural change to put us on a much better track in terms of our future.”


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