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Families affected by climate change seek deeper greenhouse reductions from the European Union


36 individuals have commenced proceedings in the EU General Court challenging the European Union’s 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets as inadequate and unlawful.  The individual applicants include farmers, fishermen, forest workers and people living in low-lying areas, as well as their children.  They are joined by an association of young Sami people, indigenous to northern Scandinavia and Russia.  The applicants contend that climate change has already led to more extreme weather conditions, causing loss, and will cause further, worsening damage over time.  They rely on, for example, evidence of wildfires destroying forests, declining rainfall and warmer temperatures leading to lower agricultural production, and IPCC forecasts as to climate change in the future under different scenarios.

The applicants contend that the Union is obliged under international law, the EU Treaties, and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, to take measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to the extent of the technical and economic capability available within the Union.  They submit that the legislature, in adopting the Emissions Trading Scheme, the Effort Sharing Regulation, and the Land Use, Land Use Change, and Forestry Regulation for 2020-2030, failed to consider a suite of measures by which deeper emissions reductions could have been made, beyond the reduction of 40% by 2030 of greenhouse emissions levels in 1990. 

The claim seek an injunction requiring the Union to adopt deeper reductions, of at least 50%-60% by 2030 below 1990 levels, and the annulment of the existing targets.

The claim is supported by Climate Action Network Europe, Protect the Planet, and other NGOs.

Further details of the case are available here, including information about the applicants, copies of the pleadings and links to press coverage.

Hugo Leith acts pro bono for the applicants, instructed by Rechtsanwälte Günther, Hamburg.