The People’s Climate Case

Climate action

Families from Europe and outside are taking the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union to the European General Court for allowing high level of emissions until 2030 and failing to protect the citizens with the existing inadequate 2030 climate target.

Today, families, including young children, and the Sami youth in Sweden whose livelihoods are and will be put at risk due to the impacts of climate change in Europe and outside, file a climate lawsuit against the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. The complaint addressed to the European General Court asserts that the EU’s existing 2030 climate target to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030, as compared to 1990 levels, is inadequate with respect to the real need to prevent dangerous climate change and not enough to protect their fundamental rights of life, health, occupation and property.

Ten families from Portugal, Germany, France, Italy, Romania, Kenya, Fiji, and the Swedish Sami Youth Association Sáminuorra, underline that climate change is already impacting their livelihoods, homes, traditional family occupation and culture. They claim that considering the requirements of higher rank EU and international law, the EU should define higher emission reduction target to protect the fundamental rights of the citizens. They ask the court to rule that climate change is a human rights issue and the EU is responsible to protect their rights, also the rights of today’s children and future generations.

The plaintiff families are challenging the EU’s 2030 climate target through addressing the three EU emission regulation legal acts (the Emission Trading Scheme Directive, the Effort Sharing Regulation and the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry Regulation) that have recently been approved by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. The families state that the high level of greenhouse gases that are still allowed to be emitted through these three legal acts do not reflect what the EU can do according to its potential to reduce emissions.

The grandfather of the French plaintiff family (72 years), Maurice Feschet explained: “44% in 6 years : it is concretely our loss of harvest in the French Provence due to the impacts of climate change hitting us harder and harder. In European politics, there is a concrete urgency to take a step back and consider the principles of democracy. The EU must now listen to its citizens who are impacted by climate change and implement the necessary measures to protect them.”

Sanna Vannar (22 years), the chairwoman of Youth Association Sáminuorra, said: “If we lose the reindeers, the Saami culture will be lost. Many of the Saami youth want to stay with their families and be reindeer herders, but they cannot see a future. This is mostly due to the threat of climate change. This must be urgently addressed for the safety of our generation and the next generations.“

These families are represented by environmental lawyer Roda Verheyen, Prof. Gerd Winter and Hugo Leith. Roda Verheyen, the lawyer of the families said: “Climate change is already an issue for the courts in the European countries and around the world. The plaintiff families are putting their trust in the EU Courts and legal system to protect their fundamental rights of life, health, occupation and property which are under threat of climate change. The EU courts must now listen to these families and ensure that they are protected.”

These families are accompanied by a broad range of NGOs, scientists and citizens who firmly believe that the EU can and must be more ambitious regarding its 2030 climate target. The scientists from the scientific think tank Climate Analytics provide interdisciplinary scientific background to this legal case showing clear evidence on how the families are impacted by climate change and indicating what is doable to further reduce emissions far beyond the current EU’s climate target. The German NGO, Protect the Planet, is bearing all the costs related to the legal case to ensure that the families have a decent chance to pursue their action and to exercise their legal and human rights. Climate Action Network, Europe’s largest NGO coalition working on climate and energy issues, with over 150 member organisations in more than 30 European countries, representing over 1700 NGOs, is also supporting this courageous action of plaintiff families and recognises the urgency to act for protecting their fundamental rights.

Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said: “In 2015, as part of the Paris Agreement, countries agreed to pursue efforts to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C. Yet, it is clear that the existing EU 2030 climate target is not enough to respect the commitments taken in the Paris Agreement and should be increased. This legal action initiated by families is underlining the urgency and the necessity to increase the EU’s 2030 climate target.”

Carl Fechner, Co-Founder of Protect the Planet said: “The People’s Climate Case is demanding more than symbolic acts and speaks for all of humanity and especially for those, who are already affected. This case makes it clear that, we must act now!”


Notes to Editor:

Quotes from plaintiffs and NGOs

Legal Summary

Pictures of the plaintiffs

Videos of the plaintiffs


Goksen Sahin, CAN Europe Communication Coordinator,, +32 4 68 45 39 20

Hanna Fuhrmann, Germanwatch e.V (Germany), Public Relations Officer , +49 (0)228 / 604 92-32 (Please get in touch with Hanna for reaching out to German plaintiff family)

Marie Pochon, Notre Affaire à Tous (France), Communication Coordinator, , +33 6 52 26 19 41 (Please get in touch with Marie for reaching out to French plaintiff family)

Raul Cazan and Mihai Stoica, President and Executive Director of 2Celcius (Romania), and, +40 724 427 999  (Please get in touch with Raul and Mihai for reaching out to Romanian plaintiff family)

Mafalda Sousa and Nuno Forner, Policy Officers in ZERO (Portugal), and ,  +351 936459045 | +351 911507704 (Please get in touch with Mafalda and Nuno for reaching out to Portuguese plaintiff families)

Fabio Dovano, President of Legambiente Torino Branch, , +39 3929935376  (Please get in touch with Fabio for reaching out to Italian plaintiff family)

Florian Carl, Protect the Planet, Scandinavian Countries Representative (Sweden), , +46 762 174 250