On 11 July 2022, an application against the United Kingdom was filed before the European Court of Human Rights by the NGO Plan B. Earth and four individual applicants. The applicants argued that the United Kingdom’s government violated their rights under Articles 2, 8 and 14 of the ECHR by failing to take practical and effective measures to tackle the threat of anthropogenic climate change. They also submitted that they had suffered violations of their procedural rights under Articles 6 and 13 ECHR because they had been denied a full hearing of their case.
Citing the UK Government’s acknowledgment of the fact that climate change is a serious threat to humanity, the applicant NGO submitted that its membership included those “who are exposed to disproportionate and discriminatory impacts and risks, whether by virtue of age, gender, mental health or membership of racially marginalised communities, or because their family life is inextricably linked to communities on the frontline of the crisis.” The applicants also cited the State’s positive obligation to safeguard the right to life, and argued that the Paris Agreement, and its temperature goal of 1,5 degrees Celsius, are relevant in determining the scope of these positive obligations. They argued that practical and effective measures are required to ensure climate mitigation, adaptation, finance flows and loss and damage, and that the respondent State has failed in all four regards.
As concerns the applicants’ victim status, they argued that they were “victims” of the alleged Convention violations. They referred to domestic rules that increase the cost risk by £5,000 for each additional claimant in environmental cases; this rule serves to deter class actions, and therefore prevents applicants from sharing the cost and other risks involved in litigation. They noted that the first applicants’ members include individuals exposed to disproportionate and discriminatory impacts and risks as concerns their age, gender, membership of racially marginalised communities, family life inextricably linked with communities in the Global South, and mental health, and those who are at the intersection of such increased risks. They also noted that, given the high risk of overwhelming and irreversible interference with the applicants’ rights, denying them victim status would render their Convention rights theoretical and illusory.
Status of case:
The ECtHR declared the application inadmissible, holding that the applicants were not sufficiently affected by the alleged breach of the Convention or its Protocols to claim to be victims of a violation within the meaning of Art. 34 of the Convention. This decision was taken by a Committee judicial formation, as the result of a written procedure without a public decision.
According to Plan B Earth’s press release following the decision, the panel was composed of three judges, among which the UK Judge Tim Eike.
Publication of decision:
Date of decision:
13 December 2022 (according to the ECtHR’s press release).
For the full text of the application form, click here.
For a press release from Plan B Earth on the filing, click here.
For the full claim before the High Court of Justice, click here.
For the Court of Appeals’ judgment, click here.
15 March 2023.