People’s Climate Case Heads to Proceed

Climate action

In May 2018 families from Portugal, Germany, France, Italy, Romania, Kenya, Fiji and the Swedish Saami Youth Association Sáminuorra sued the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union for the inadequate climate target for 2030. The lawsuit claims that the Union’s climate target fails to protect their human rights.

The European General Court has accepted the case and, is published in the European Union Official Journal today. 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 react (provide their defence) in two months.

This news comes at a moment when most Europeans are still suffering from heat waves, droughts and wildfires. These extreme weather events which scientists associate with climate change directly affect the plaintiffs of the case.

“Can you imagine how it feels to look out of your window and see the impacts of climate change? The drought and wildfires that happened in the last months are only a part of what reindeer herders are facing. The fact that the court has accepted our case gives me some hope. We need to act now.” said Sanna Vannar, president of the Swedish Saami Youth Association, Sáminuorra.

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.”

These families are represented by environmental lawyer Roda Verheyen, Prof. Gerd Winter and Hugo Leith. Roda Verheyen, the lawyer of the families 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 (CAN) 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.”

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

Publication in the Official Journal of the European Union: