Back in September, we wrote about a groundbreaking court case filed by young activists from Portugal that demanded 33 countries to make more ambitious emissions cuts to protect their future physical and mental wellbeing. Those countries include all the EU states, as well as the UK, Norway, Russia, Turkey, Switzerland, and Ukraine.
The plaintiffs, which include four children and two adults, want the European Court of Human Rights to issue binding orders to all EU states in order to prevent discrimination against the young while protecting their rights to exercise outdoors and live without climate anxiety.
In a sign that this case is being taken very seriously, the court has granted the case priority status due to the “importance and urgency of the issues raised.” That means the case will be heard by the court much sooner than expected.
“It gives me lots of hope to know that the judges in the European Court of Human Rights recognize the urgency of our case,” said plaintiff André Oliveira, who is only 12. “But what I’d like the most would be for European governments to immediately do what the scientists say is necessary to protect our future. Until they do this, we will keep on fighting with more determination than ever.”
The plaintiffs have brought the case against all 33 countries with the support of the nonprofit law firm Global Legal Action Network (GLAN). By suing all these countries together, the youth could spur aggressive action on climate from national governments through a single court order. That would be far more effective than pursuing separate lawsuits or lobbying policymakers in each country.
Looking forward, the 33 countries must each respond to the youths’ complaints by the end of February. Afterward, lawyers representing the plaintiffs will then respond to those points of defense.
It’s incredible to see what these young generations are doing to spur meaningful climate action. As always, we’ll keep you up to date with the developments of this story.