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EU top court drops 'People's Climate Case'

March 25, 2021

The European Court of Justice argued that 10 families were not "individually" affected by the EU's climate policies, which they had filed suit against to force the bloc into adopting stricter protection measures.

The European Court of Justice in Luxemburg.
The court said legal recourse was not open to citizens if they were not "individually" affected by the EU legislationImage: Imago Images/P. Scheiber

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) on Thursday dismissed an appeal raised by families from Europe, Fiji and Kenya that aimed to force the European Union to impose stricter climate measures.

Families from Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Kenya and Fiji filed the case against the EU to implement higher targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

The EU's top court argued that the plaintiffs were not "individually" affected by the bloc's climate policies, confirming an earlier decision by the European General Court.  

"The fact that the effects of climate change may be different for one person than they are for another does not mean that, for that reason, there exists standing to bring an action against a measure of general application," ECJ said in a statement. 

What is the 'People's Climate Case'? 

Dubbed "People's Climate Case," the lawsuit raised by 10 families and joined by a Swedish youth organization argued that the EU's 2030 climate goals were inadequate.

The plaintiffs include families from areas struggling with heatwaves, droughts and forest fires, which threatened their health and livelihood and their businesses, as most of them worked in agriculture and tourism sectors. 

They filed the lawsuit against the EU Parliament and Council, claiming that the bloc's emissions violated their rights of livelihood, even beyond European borders.

At the time, the EU was aiming to cut its gas emissions by at least 40 percent compared to 1990s levels. But last year, the bloc reached a deal to step its target and cut its emissions by at least 55%. 

In 2019, the European General Court recognized the effects of climate change on the plaintiffs but rejected the case on procedural grounds. So, they took their appeal to the ECJ.

The EU is the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter with 10% of worldwide emissions. China and the United States occupy the top two ranks.


fb/sms (AP, dpa)

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