In May 2018, families from Portugal, Germany, France, Italy, Romania, Kenya, Fiji and an association in Sweden, sued the European Parliament and European Council for what they saw as an inadequate climate target that has been set for 2030.
The European General Court has accepted the case and a notice has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union.
This is an important first step in the proceeding of the People’s Climate Case. The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union are expected to submit their defence in two months.
The lawsuit claims that the Union’s climate target fails to protect human rights.
This news comes at a moment when most Europeans are suffering from heat waves, droughts and wildfires. These extreme weather events, which scientists associate with climate change, directly affect the plaintiffs.
Armando Carvalho, the Portuguese plaintiff who lost his tree plantations during the forest fires in 2017 said,
“The wildfires destroyed my property in 2017. This year, we are once again struggling with massive heatwaves and wildfires in Europe. Since the beginning of this summer, many other people lost their lives and homes due to worsening impacts of climate change. We can not remain silent to this. This case is about our common future and we are glad to be one step closer to be heard.”
Environmental lawyer, Roda Verheyen, said: “This case is about protecting the people, their livelihoods, and fundamental rights from the worsening impacts of climate change. This is a landmark case at the European level and I believe that we have all the necessary evidences to proceed about the impacts on the plaintiffs and the EU’s potential to do more on climate action.”
The People’s Climate Case is also supported by a broad range of NGOs, scientists and citizens who believe that the EU can and must increase its 2030 climate target.
Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network Europe said,
“The EU’s existing 2030 climate target is too low to protect people and their fundamental rights. 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.”
The European Parliament and Council “are the targets of this case and shall have to present their defence in the next two months", the Portuguese environmental association, ‘Zero’ said.
Zero welcomed the European Court’s decision “at a time when the climate change effects are sweeping across Europe."