Quantcast

10 Families Bring First Ever 'People’s Climate Case' Against the EU

A French lavender farmer is part of the group suing the EU for more ambitious emissions targets, saying climate change threatens his crop. Iamhao / CC BY-SA 3.0

Ten families from Fiji, Kenya and countries across Europe who are already suffering the effects of climate change filed a case against the EU Wednesday in a bid to force the body to increase its commitments under the Paris agreement, AFP reported.


The "People's Climate Case," as it is being called, challenges the climate policies of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, saying they will not reduce emissions quickly enough to stop rising temperatures from disrupting the plaintiffs' lives. While an increasing number of communities and individuals have taken fossil fuel companies and governments to court over climate change in recent years, this is the first such case to be brought against the EU as a whole.

The case was brought before the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice by people who "are already being impacted by climate change, already incurring damage ... and they are saying: 'EU, you have to do what you can to protect us because otherwise our damage will be catastrophical,'" Roda Verheyen, the lawyer arguing the case, told AFP.

The EU currently plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, but the plaintiffs say that is not enough. They are asking the EU to strengthen its plan's emissions trading scheme directive, its land use, land use change and forestry regulation and its effort sharing regulation.

The UN calculated that current international commitments under the Paris agreement would still allow for three degrees Celsius of warming above pre-industrial levels, despite the agreement's goal of limiting warming to "well below" two degrees. Scientists say a three degree warmer world would lead to even more extreme weather and sea level rise, according to AFP.

"This case is important because it asks the EU to increase its climate ambition to 2030, in order to take a fair share of the burden required to meet the temperature goal of the Paris agreement and to protect the human rights of European citizens," ClientEarth lawyer Sophie Marjanac told The Independent.

According to The Guardian, there is precedent for the success of such an argument. In 2015, a judge at The Hague ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in a case brought against the Dutch government asking it to reduce emissions by 25 percent within five years. The Netherlands appealed the case, and the appeal will be heard next week.

The plaintiffs in this case are not seeking any financial compensation, only policy change, and their stories put a human face to the sometimes abstract concept of climate change.

They include members of the indigenous Swedish Sami Youth Association Sáminuorra who say that warmer Northern winters are threatening the reindeer that their way of life depends upon.

"If we lose the reindeers, the Sami culture will be lost. Many of the Sami 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." Sáminuorra Chair Sanna Vannar said, as quoted by The Guardian.

Further south, 72-year-old Provencal lavender farmer Maurice Feschet is also concerned with passing on his livelihood. He said that climate change cost him 44 percent of his harvest within six years.

"My family has been farming here since the 1800s. I am taking this action for my 38-year-old son who lives on the farm. We want him to continue to be able to farm, but it is not going to be easy. There must be more done," he told The Guardian.

According to AFP, Vannar and Feschet are joined by about 30 other plaintiffs, including a Romanian sheep farmer whose herd is threatened by drought, a Portuguese forester who lost all of his trees to wildfires in 2017, residents of a German island threatened by rising sea levels, owners of a diminishing ice-climbing business in the Italian Alps, Fijians concerned with more intense cyclones and coral bleaching and a Kenyan family coping with desertification.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

In tea, food, or just on your windowsill, embrace the fragrance and fantastic healing potential of herbs.

Read More Show Less

By Ana Santos Rutschman

The world of food and drug regulation was rocked earlier this month by the news of a change in leadership at the Food and Drug Administration. Commissioner Scott Gottlieb resigned and will step down in early April. His temporary replacement is Dr. Ned Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
MartinPrescott / iStock / Getty Images

On Wednesday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the first 20 chemicals it plans to prioritize as "high priority" for assessment under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Given the EPA's record of malfeasance on chemicals policy over the past two years, it is clear that these are chemicals that EPA is prioritizing to ensure that they are not properly evaluated or regulated.

Read More Show Less
Strawberries top the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" list of U.S. produce most contaminated with pesticides. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP / Getty Images

Which conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables in the U.S. are most contaminated with pesticides? That's the question that the Environmental Working Group answers every year with its "Dirty Dozen" list of produce with the highest concentration of pesticides after being washed or peeled.

Read More Show Less
A drilling rig in a Wyoming natural gas field. William Campbell / Corbis via Getty Images

A U.S. federal judge temporarily blocked oil and gas drilling on 300,000 acres of federal leases in Wyoming Tuesday, arguing that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) "did not sufficiently consider climate change" when auctioning off the land, The Washington Post reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Mizina / iStock / Getty Images

By Ryan Raman, MS, RD

Oats are widely regarded as one of the healthiest grains you can eat, as they're packed with many important vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Read More Show Less
JPMorgan Chase building in New York City. Ben Sutherland / CC BY 2.0

By Sharon Kelly

A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.

Read More Show Less
Sriram Madhusoodanan of Corporate Accountability speaking on conflict of interest demand of the People's Demands at a defining action launching the Demands at COP24. Corporate Accountability

By Patti Lynn

2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."

Read More Show Less