People’s Climate Case
Petru Vlad, a Transylvanian shepherd, is the Romanian plaintiff in the People’s Climate Case.
Vlad family lives in the Romanian Carpathians at an elevation of 700 metres. This herding family testifies that they are now facing the risk of losing their family farm, their livestock and their traditional family occupation due to increasing temperatures, droughts and lack of water in their region.
The analysis of climate trends clearly shows an increase of 1.1–2.0 °C over the last 50 years (1961–2010). Alongside the overall temperature increase, the family has also observed changes in the seasons. It is now common for temperatures in February to rise up and then to drop again to sub-zero with snow in March. Because of this development, crops such as corn and potatoes are no longer viable.
Incidentally, animal herding is becoming very difficult for the family, as securing enough food is getting substantially harder. Since the grass no longer grows sufficiently in the summer time due to the increasing temperature and especially the periods of extreme heat, the family has to herd their livestock to higher elevations, where it is cooler and there is more moisture to help the pastures grow.
The father of the Vlad family, Petru Vlad, explains how they are impacted by climate change and why they are taking European institutions to court:
“Year by year, the temperatures are increasing. There is no longer enough water for our cattle and sheep. I have to take my cattle from 700m altitude to 1400m for decent grass to graze, but especially for water. But I cannot go any further up with our herds, because above 2000m there is only the sky.
Some say it is divine punishment, others blame it on pollution. However, what I can tell you, as a simple peasant with no higher education, is that it is not my fault and that needs to be fixed. And this is why I demand action: not money, but protection.”
The Vlad family is putting their trust in the European institutions to increase the EU’s 2030 climate target and to protect them before it is too late.
The plaintiffs 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 the People’s Climate Case to show clear evidence on how the families are impacted by climate change and indicate 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.