NGOs stand in support of the Portuguese youth in their landmark case against 33 European countries

Climate action

Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, Germanwatch, Notre Affaire à Tous and 2Celsius applied to the European Court of Human Rights to intervene in the Portuguese youth’s climate case to support the claim of the plaintiffs impacted by climate change. In this landmark climate case, 6 Portuguese children and young adults challenge the 27 EU Member States, the UK, Switzerland, Norway, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine by arguing that these countries breach their human rights by failing to make deep and urgent emission cuts and not adequately addressing their contributions to emissions released beyond borders.

The case filed on 03 September 2020, is granted priority by the European Court of Human Rights, based on the “importance and urgency of the issues raised”. European countries are expected to submit their written answers to Court before 27 May 2021.

Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights are legally binding. The youth plaintiffs in this case are therefore on the cusp of securing an outcome which would have profound consequences for European governments’ climate change mitigation obligations.

Through their interventions at the national level, Germanwatch (Germany), 2 Celsius (Romania), and Notre Affaire à Tous (France) aim to strengthen the plaintiffs’ arguments on European countries’ climate inaction.

CAN Europe, Europe’s leading NGO coalition with over 170 member organisations from 38 European countries, will present its arguments to the Court on the need for European countries to define appropriate reduction pathways in order to do their fair share to achieve the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C objective.

The Court grants the persons/organisations the right to intervene, in support of one of the parties, based on their justification of interest in the outcome of the case. Any intervener can submit written submissions to the court.

In regard to CAN Europe’s intervention, Wendel Trio, Director of CAN Europe said: “Current efforts by our governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are highly insufficient as the world is still heading for a temperature rise around 2.5°C, alarmingly above the objectives of the Paris Agreement. It is encouraging to see that an increasing number of national and supranational Courts look into governments’ responsibilities in the current climate crisis.

This year, EU Member States will revise the EU’s climate and energy legislation. Without needing a court order, they must ensure that the new climate and energy legislation reflects the highest level of ambition in emission reductions.”

Regarding Notre Affaire à Tous’ intervention, Clothilde Baudouin said: “This unprecedented legal action brought by 6 young Portuguese people makes us hopeful. As the fight for climate justice is growing bigger and bigger, challenging European countries to take concrete and efficient measures to combat climate change is becoming even more urgent. In France, the State’s failure to respect its commitments has just been condemned by law in a national climate litigation case “L’Affaire du Siècle”. Climate inaction is no longer tolerable both nationally and at the European level”.


Goksen Sahin, Communications Coordinator,, +32 468 45 39 20


Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe is Europe’s leading NGO coalition fighting dangerous climate change. With over 170 member organisations from 38 European countries, representing over 1.500 NGOs and more than 47 million citizens, CAN Europe promotes sustainable climate, energy and development policies throughout Europe.


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