CAN Europe is intervening in the People’s Climate Case

Climate action

Today, CAN Europe, has applied to the European General Court to intervene in the People’s Climate Case – a case in which families and youth have challenged the EU in order to protect their fundamental rights from the insufficiency of the EU’s 2030 greenhouse gas emission reduction target. Through this intervention, CAN Europe aims to increase the pressure on the EU to live up to its Paris Agreement responsibilities.

CAN Europe, Europe’s leading NGO coalition fighting dangerous climate change with over 150 member organisations from 35 European countries, representing over 1.700 NGOs and more than 40 million citizens, will present its arguments to the Court for the need to increase the European Union’s 2030 climate target in order to comply with the objective of the Paris Agreement to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C.

The Court rules allow the persons/organisations to intervene, in support of one of the parties by explaining their interest in the outcome of the case. Any intervenor can submit written submissions to the court, and can also be part of an oral hearing. CAN Europe will intervene in the applicants side to support the claim of the plaintiffs impacted by climate change.

On 8 October, the IPCC Special Report ‘Global Warming of 1.5°C’ will alert the world to the harmful impacts of current warming how these impacts will get far worse if we do not limit temperature rise to 1.5°C. The report will also show that staying below 1.5°C will require a challenging but feasible rapid and far-reaching transition away from fossil fuels in all sectors. CAN Europe will also present the recent science to the Court to support the claim of the plaintiffs of the People’s Climate Case on the need for urgent and increased climate action.

During the press briefing organised this morning, Wendel Trio, Director of CAN Europe said: “In the Paris Agreement, the countries committed to pursue efforts to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C. However, they are currently failing on their commitments. CAN Europe will, for the first time, intervene in a lawsuit because the outcome of this case will affect all of us. As a network, we will present arguments which demonstrate that the EU should adopt more ambitious targets for the reduction in emissions in order to comply with the Paris Agreement and to protect the human rights of its citizens.”

Armando Carvalho, the Portuguese plaintiff of the People’s Climate Case who lost his forested land during the wildfires in 2017 said: “The EU must take into account that climate change is increasingly evident and affecting the everyday life of its citizens. Since we launched the case, we have received a lot of support from other citizens and NGOs across Europe. CAN Europe’s intervention in the People’s Climate Case will not only strengthen the case, but also enrich the debate on the EU’s 2030 targets.”

Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, Former Vice- Chair of IPCC, said: “The dramatic consequences of climate change that the plaintiffs are experiencing today will become a norm in Europe if we don’t reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero in the coming decades. To save many more European citizens from severe heat waves, heavy rain, drought, storms and floods in the future we need to make every effort to limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C. This case is a clarion call to the EU to significantly step up its climate action in line with the 1.5°C limit enshrined in the Paris Agreement.”

Angela Burnett, The Virgin Islands Climate Change Officer and Author of The Irma Diaries said: “While Europe was struggling with heatwaves and droughts in 2017, Hurricane Irma devastated The Virgin Islands taking lives, homes, natural assets, setting back development by decades and reminding us that climate change will create millions of refugees if we don’t act now. It is important and inspiring to witness the stories of people who are standing up after climate disasters and fighting for their communities in many ways. Activating jurisdictions across the world and sharing our stories are among the most important means of asking for better climate policies.”

Marc Willers QC, the leading barrister from Garden Court Chambers representing CAN Europe said : “This legal case is unprecedented in many ways. For the first time in Europe people affected by climate change have challenged their countries’ compliance with the Paris Agreement in the European Courts. My colleagues and I were very pleased to represent CAN Europe on its intervention application in support of the People’s Climate Case. We consider that CAN Europe will bring added value to the case and we trust that the application will be granted by the General Court.”

MEDIA CONTACTS: Goksen Sahin, CAN Europe Communication Coordinator,, +32 468 45 39 20

NOTES TO THE EDITOR: Presentation of Jean Pascal van Ypersele, Former vice-chair of IPCC