2Celsius joins other non profit European organisations that support the climate change case brought to the Human Rights Court by six young people from Portugal against big polluters. The European Court of Human Rights has dismissed a coordinated effort by 33 governments to overturn its decision to fast-track an unprecedented climate change case. The case is brought against Europe’s major emitters by six Portuguese children and young adults experiencing the effects of rising heat extremes in Portugal.
In October 2020, the Strasbourg Court granted the case priority status on the basis of the “importance and urgency of the issues raised”. The youth-applicants argue that defendant countries must adopt the “deep and urgent” emissions cuts which the UN says are now necessary to achieve the goal of the Paris Agreement. The youth-applicants argue that defendant countries must adopt the “deep and urgent” emissions cuts which the UN says are now necessary to achieve the goal of the Paris Agreement.
As a result of the Court’s decision, these countries must now attempt to defend the compatibility of their climate policies with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C global warming target. The governments petitioned the Court to reverse its decision to fast-track it, arguing that the youth-applicants do not face any imminent danger. As well as rejecting this request, the Court also denied their application to defer scrutiny of their climate policies. As a result of the Court’s decision, these countries must now attempt to defend the compatibility of their climate policies with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C global warming target.
Martim Agostinho (18), one of the youth-applicants involved, said:“The Court’s resistance to the efforts to prevent our case from being heard in full brings me even more hope and demonstrates the importance and urgency of our case. The fight against climate change is a fight against time and it is urgent that we get a decision from the Court.”.”
The Court did extend the deadline for governments to submit their defences to the youth-applicants’ case to 27 May 2021. Then, the youth-applicants and their team will face the major task of responding to the arguments of each of the 33 governments. The youth-applicants have also received the support of numerous civil society organisations, UN experts, academics and representatives of the youth-led climate movement in Europe, who have sought permission from the Strasbourg-based Court to formally participate in their case as “third-party interveners.” This mechanism allows individuals and organisations to independently make submissions to the Court. The Climate Action Network-Europe, a coalition of over 170 member organisations from 38 European countries, together with Germanwatch (Germany), 2 Celsius (Romania), and Notre Affaire à Tous (France), these organisations stated that through their interventions they “aim to strengthen the plaintiffs’ arguments on European countries’ climate inaction.”
The six young applicants from Portugal are: Cláudia Agostinho (21), Catarina Mota (20), Martim Agostinho (18), Sofia Oliveira (15), André Oliveira (13), Mariana Agostinho (8). The countries being sued are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Turkey and Ukraine.
The case was filed on the 3rd September, just after Portugal recorded its hottest July in ninety years. It is the first climate case brought before an international court with the power to issue binding legal rulings.
GLAN, the organisation assisting the six Portuguese young people in bringing their case, has launched an international crowdfund to back this effort. It is available here.