Portuguese youths are taking 32 nations to the European Court of Human Rights this month for not doing enough to stop global warming, the latest bid to secure climate justice through the courts.
The move was sparked by the massive wildfires that struck Portugal in 2017, killing over 100 people and charring swathes of the country.
Aged 11 to 24, the young people say they are suffering from anxiety over their health and “having to live with a climate that is getting hotter and hotter” with more natural disasters. Some claim allergies and breathing problems both during the fires and after, conditions at risk of persisting if the planet keeps warming.
Underscoring the potential impact of the case in terms of forcing countries to act, the Strasbourg-based court’s Grand Chamber will examine the arguments on September 27, something that is reserved for exceptional cases.
The youths argue that excessive carbon emissions are infringing in particular the right to life and the right to the respect of private and family life.
“This is truly a David and Goliath case,” said Gearoid O Cuinn, director of the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), which is supporting the youths’ case. “Never before have so many countries had to defend themselves in front of any court anywhere in the world,” he said.
Activists are increasingly turning to courts to force greater efforts by governments to tackle climate change, amid warnings the world is falling short of the 2015 Paris Agreement goals for limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above mid-19th century levels.__Daily Times