Categories
Children and young people Domestic court Emissions reductions Germany Paris Agreement Private and family life Right to a healthy environment Right to life

Luca Salis et al. v. Sachsen-Anhalt

Summary:
This constitutional complaint was brought by three young people against the German State (“Bundesland”) of Sachsen-Anhalt in the wake of the Neubauer v. Germany judgment of the German Bundesverfassungsgericht. They contest the State’s failure to chart a course towards greenhouse gas emissions reductions by adopting legislation on climate protection. The state abandoned efforts to adopt such a law after an initiative in this regard failed in 2013, relying on the Paris Agreement and the German Constitution. Like in the related case of Lemme et al. v. Bavaria, the plaintiffs here argue that the Bundesländer share responsibility for protecting their lives and civil liberties, along with those of future generations, within their respective spheres of competence. According to the plaintiffs, the lack of legislation on climate action on the state level violates the German Constitution and the reductions regime under the Paris Agreement. They also submit that they have a fundamental right to defend themselvse against future rights impacts caused by the lack of climate measures.

Rights invoked:
The applicants invoked violations of freedoms guaranteed under the domestic Constitution, especially those in Art. 2(2) of the German Constitution (right to life and physical integrity and freedom of the person), in combination with Article 20a of the Constitution (protection of the natural foundations of life and of animals). They invoked these rights in their ‘intertemporal dimension’, i.e. taking on the framing of the Neubauer case, which considered that failure to act now on climate change means excessively impacting future freedoms.

Suggested citation:
German Bundesverfassungsgericht, Luca Salis et al. v. Sachsen-Anhalt, constitutional complaint submitted on 9 September 2021.

Related proceedings:
For more on the two complaints brought in the related Lemme case, see below.

Categories
Children and young people Domestic court Emissions reductions Germany Paris Agreement Right to a healthy environment Self-determination

Lemme et al. v. Bayern

Summary:
This case is part of a set of proceedings brought by ten youth plaintiffs concerning the codification of the adjusted climate goals brought about in response to the Neubauer v. Germany judgment of the German Bundesverfassungsgericht. According to the applicants, in their constitutional claim, the German States (“Bundesländer”) share responsibility for protecting their lives and civil liberties, along with those of future generations, within their spheres of competence. They argue that the lack of legislation on climate action on the state level violates the German Constitution and the reductions regime under the Paris Agreement, and that they have a fundamental right to defend themselvse against future rights impacts caused by the lack of climate measures.

Regulatory context:
The Bavarian Climate Protection Act (Bayerisches Klimaschutzgesetz) aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% compared to 1990 levels by 2030. It also aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and requires Bavaria to offset emissions after 2030. This has been implemented through a climate protection program. According to the plaintiffs, the lack of a deadline of adaptation strategy, and the failure to provide differentiated targets or instruments for implementation of compliance, mean that the Bavarian law falls short of the Federal requirements on climate protection measures.

Rights invoked:
The applicants invoked violations of various freedoms guaranteed under the domestic Constitution, especially those in Art. 2(1) of the German Constitution (right to free development of one’s personality), in combination with Article 20a of the Constitution (protection of the natural foundations of life and of animals). They invoked these rights in their ‘intertemporal dimension’, i.e. taking on the framing of the Neubauer case, which considered that failure to act now on climate change means excessively impacting future freedoms.

Related proceedings:
In addition to the constitutional proceedings, a subsidiary popular complaint has been brought by the same group of applicants to contend that the Bavarian Climate Protection Act (Bayerisches Klimaschutzgesetz), along with the wider regulatory context, is in violation of constitutional rights.

In addition, similar litigation has been brought in other German Bundesländer.

Suggested citation:
German Bundesverfassungsgericht, Marlene Lemme and Nine Other v. Bavaria, constitutional complaint of 30 June 2021.

Categories
Domestic court Emissions reductions European Convention on Human Rights Italy Paris Agreement Right to a healthy environment

Giudizio Universale (The Last Judgment) (A Sud v. Italy)

Summary:
In June 2021, the Giudizio Universale (The Last Judgment) campaign, coordinated by the environmental justice NGO A Sud, filed a suit before domestic courts in Italy. The suit, which involves more than 200 plaintiffs, alleges that the Italian government has violated fundamental rights due to its failure to take appropriate measures to meet the emissions reductions targets in the Paris Climate Agreement. violating fundamental rights, including the right to a stable and safe climate. The plaintiffs seek an order that the Italian government must cut emissions by 92% by 2030 as compared to 1990 levels. The applicants argue that although some emissions reductions have been achieved since 1990, these amount to only about a 29% reduction as compared to 1990 levels. The applicants submit that this level of reduction is incompatible with the ‘fair share’ of emissions reductions that Italy must implement to meet the 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement.

Among other rights, the applicants invoke the human right to a stable and safe climate. In their submissions, they base this right on Article 6 of the Treaty of the European Union as well as Articles 2 (right to life) and 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Although there is no explicit right to a healthy environment in the ECHR, the European Court of Human Rights has an extensive environmental jurisprudence, having decided more than 300 cases with an environmental connection.

Date filed:
5 June 2021

Jurisdiction:
Civil Court of Rome

Further reading:
A summary of the legal action is available here (in Italian).

An English-language summary has been provided here.

Categories
Access to a remedy Austria Emissions reductions European Convention on Human Rights European Court of Human Rights Fair trial Paris Agreement Private and family life Right to life Victim status Vulnerability

Unknown v. Austria

Summary:
On 25 March 2021, a yet-uncommunicated application was filed before the European Court of Human Rights concerning the impact of climate change (specifically, temperature increases) on an applicant suffering from temperature-sensitive multiple sclerosis and Uhthoff’s syndrome. The applicant alleges a violation of his rights under Article 8 ECHR by the failure by the Austrian government to set effective greenhouse gas emissions reduction measures.

The applicant alleged in particular that, at temperatures above 25 degrees Celsius, he is no longer able to walk, and that above 30 degrees Celsius, he loses complete control over his muscular movement. The applicant alleged that, by failing to sufficiently reduce its emissions to meet the goals set out in the Paris Agreement, the respondent State had not only made it impossible to meet the 1,5 degree Celsius warming target set out therein, but had even actively taken measures to exacerbate the climate crisis, including through subsidies and incentives. The applicant also alleged that the domestic State’s legal system systemically impeded him from challenging the climate policies at stake, and the government’s inaction in this regard.

He invoked the right to respect for private and family life in Article 8 ECHR, and subsidiarily the right to life in Article 2 ECHR, as well as the rights to access to a remedy and fair trial in Articles 13 and 6 ECHR.

Date:
pending

Adjudicating Body:
European Court of Human Rights

Status of case:
pending

Admissibility:
pending

Merits:
pending

Remedies:
pending

Separate opinions:
pending

Implementation measures taken:
N/A

Suggested case citation:
European Court of Human Rights, Unknown v. Austria, application filed on 25 March 2021

Keywords:
global warming, vulnerability, multiple sclerosis, European Court of Human Rights, health impacts, vulnerability, disability

Links:
Text of the applicant to the Court: https://www.michaelakroemer.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/rechtsanwaeltin-michaela-kroemer-klimaklage-petition.pdf

Categories
Elderly Emissions reductions European Convention on Human Rights European Court of Human Rights Fair trial Keywords Margin of appreciation Paris Agreement Private and family life Right to life Switzerland Victim status

Verein Klimaseniorinnen et al. v. Switzerland

Summary:
The Climate Seniors Association demands that the federal authorities correct the course of Swiss climate policy because the current climate targets and measures are not sufficient to limit global warming to a safe level. They claim that Switzerland is not doing as much as required to prevent such disasters, and thereby failing to protect the enjoyment of their rights under Articles 2 and 8 ECHR (the rights to life and respect for private and family life, respectively). They also invoke two procedural rights under the Convention, namely the rights in Articles 6 and 13 ECHR (right to a fair trial and right to an effective remedy, respectively).

This case was only the second climate change-related case to come to Strasbourg. Like the Duarte Agostinho case, this application raises novel questions before the Court, including the issue of victim status in climate cases, the standing of (environmental) NGOs to bring cases to the Court, and the extent of the State margin of appreciation in regard to environmental protection measures related to climate change.

Third-party interventions:
There have been several third party interventions in this case.

For the full text of the joint intervention by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the Swiss Section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ-CH), click here.

For the full text of the third-party intervention submitted by the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI), click here.

Admissibility:

Pending

Merits:

Pending

Remedies:

Pending

Separate opinions:

Pending

Implementation measures taken:

N/A

Date of decision:

Pending

Type of Forum:

Regional

Status of case:

Communicated on 17 March 2021

Suggested case citation:

ECtHR,Verein Klimaseniorinnen Schweiz and Others v. Switzerland, no. 53600/20, Communicated Case, 17 March 2021

Links:

Categories
Czechia Domestic court Emissions reductions European Convention on Human Rights Paris Agreement Right to a healthy environment

Klimatická žaloba ČR and others v. Czechia

Summary:
This case was brought by a group of applicants, named in the brief as the climate action NGO Klimatická žaloba ČR, a municipality, two peasants, several foresters, and a man from Prague who suffers from environmental anxiety. The case was brought on 21 April 2021, and alleges that the Government’s failures to adequately address climate change violate the rights to life, health, a healthy environment, and other rights guaranteed by the Czech constitution, the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, and the European Convention on Human Rights.

The applicants seek a declaration that the Czech government failed to respect their rights by ensuring sufficient emissions reductions to meet the Paris Agreement’s targets. They seek an order setting the Czech carbon budget at 800 Mt CO2 from January 2021 until the end of the century.

Date filed:
21 April 2021

More information:
The complaint is available here (in Czech).

Categories
2021 Children and young people Domestic court Emissions reductions Germany Paris Agreement

Bundesverfassungsgericht, Order of 24 March 2021

Summary:
On 21 April 2019, the German Federal Constitutional Court (‘Bundesverfassungsgericht’) issued a historic judgment quashing parts of the German Climate Protection Act. The judgment considered that the existing measures for climate protection impermissibly deferred the emissions reductions necessary for meeting Paris Agreement goals into the future, i.e. post-2031, thereby shifting the responsibility for reductions onto future generations, who would have to accept dramatic limitations on their freedoms as a result.

Admissibility:

Merits:
In its judgment, First Senate of the German Federal Constitutional Court held that the parts of the German Federal Climate Change Act of 12 December 2019 (Bundes-Klimaschutzgesetz – KSG) governing national climate targets and the emissions allowed annually until 2030 were incompatible with fundamental rights. This finding was based on the absence of specified emission reductions after 2030. The Court emphasized the principle of inter-generational justice stemming from Art. 20a of the German Basic Law.

The KSG creates an obligation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 relative to 1990 levels. The Bundesverfassungsgericht held that the legislator had not violated its constitutional duty to protect the complainants from the risks of climate change or to take climate action (as required by Article 20a of the German Basic Law) by passing the KSG into law. However, it found that the provisions in questions irreversibly offloaded emission reduction burdens into the future, namely the time period after post-2030. The Bundesverfassungsgericht drew on the constitutional climate goal arising from Article 20a of the German Basic Law, which requires — in line with the targets set out in the Paris Agreement — that increases in the global average temperature should be limited to well below 2°C, and preferably to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The Court found that the statutory provisions in the KSG on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 2031 onwards were insufficient, meaning that a great burden would be placed on the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms by future generations. This violated the constitutional rights of the applicants, in the sense of their fundamental freedoms (including, among others, Art. 2(1) GG) in the sense of an advance interference-like effect (eingriffsähnliche Vorwirkung).

In all other respects, the constitutional complaints were rejected. This includes the rejection of complaints about current-day interferences with the rights to life and physical integrity, and complaints by applicants from Bangladesh and Nepal.

Remedies:
The court ordered the legislator to enact provisions specifying the adjustment of reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions for periods after 2030 in greater detail by 31 December 2022 that.

Separate opinions:
None

Implementation measures taken:
TBD

Date:
24 March 2021

Type of Forum:
Domestic

Status of case:
Final

Suggested case citation:
German Bundesverfassungsgericht, Judgment of the First Senate of 24 March 2021 – 1 BvR 2656/18 -, N. 1-270, http://www.bverfg.de/e/rs20210324_1bvr265618.html.

Links:
Judgment in German

Summary in English

Categories
2021 Domestic court Emissions reductions European Convention on Human Rights France Paris Agreement Private and family life Right to life

Notre Affaire à Tous and Others v. France (‘L’affaire du siècle’)

Summary:
The L’affaire du siècle (French for “affair of the century”) is a French climate justice campaign initiated by four organisations (Fondation pour la nature et l’homme, Greenpeace France, Notre affaire à tous and Oxfam France) on 17 December 2018 to bring the French State to justice for its inaction in the fight against global warming. A legal action against the State was filed with the Paris Administrative Court on 14 March 2019. On 3 February 2021, in a decision that the associations described as ‘a historic victory for the climate’, this court confirmed the existence of a causal link between environmental damage and the failure of the State to adequately combat climate change. It ordered the State to submit written observations within a two-month time frame.

Rights invoked:
Among other things, the applicant organisations relied on Articles 2 and 8 ECHR and the French Charter of the Environment, as well as the”right to a preserved climate system”. The plaintiffs argued that this right stems from national and international law such as the Stockholm Declaration, the World Charter for Nature, the Rio Declaration, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement, the Climate action and renewable energy package for 2020.

Findings on the merits:
The court found that the State had not respected its greenhouse gas reductions commitments and had therefore committed a “fault”. It accordingly held that, “[i]n line with the commitments that it had made within the framework of the first carbon budget, which it failed to respect, the State must be regarded as responsible […] for part of the ecological damage observed”.

The Administrative Court of Paris thereby confirmed that there was a causal link between the environmental damage and the inaction of the French government in combating climate change. In other words, it recognized that the government’s inaction had caused ecological damage, and that the State should be held responsible for at least part of this damage. The court ordered the government to show, within 2 months, the measures it intended to take against climate change. The court reserved the rest of its judgment until after it had received these submissions.

Date of filing:
14 March 2019

Date of decision:
3 February 2021

Further information:
The full text of the judgment (in French) can be found here.

The applicant organisations are active on Twitter at @laffairedusiecl, and they have a website that can be found at https://laffairedusiecle.net/.

Suggested citation:
Paris Administrative Court, Notre Affaire à Tous and Others v. France (‘L’affaire du siècle’), case nos. 1904967, 1904968, 1904972, and 1904976/4, Judgment of 3 February 2021.

Categories
Austria Belgium Bulgaria Children and young people Croatia Cyprus Czechia Denmark Emissions reductions Estonia European Convention on Human Rights European Court of Human Rights Finland France Germany Greece Hungary Ireland Italy Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Non-discrimination Norway Paris Agreement Poland Portugal Private and family life Prohibition of torture Right to life Romania Russian Federation Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden Switzerland The Netherlands The United Kingdom Turkey Ukraine

Duarte Agostinho et al. v. Austria et al.

Summary:
This case was brought by a group of young people who are part of Youth for Climate Justice against 33 Council of Europe Member States. The applicant young people claim that their right to life is threatened by the effects of climate change in Portugal (e.g. forest fires). Moreover they claim that their right to privacy includes their physical and mental wellbeing, which is threatened by heatwaves that force them to spend more time indoors; and that as young people, they stand to experience the worst effects of climate change.

This is the first climate application brought before the European Court of Human Rights, and it was brought with the support of the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN). The issues raised here are novel in the Strasbourg context. In addition, in communicating the case, the Court also proprio motu raised an issue under Article 3 ECHR, the prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment.

Admissibility:
Pending

Merits:
Pending

Remedies:
Pending

Separate opinions:
Pending

Implementation measures taken:
N/A

Date:
Pending

Type of Forum:
Regional

Status of case:
Communicated by the Court on 30 November 2020

Suggested case citation:
ECtHR, Duarte Agostinho and Others v. Portugal and 32 Other Member States, no. 39371/20, Communicated Case, 30 November 2020

Links:
https://youth4climatejustice.org/

The applicants in the case have set up two websites to share documents related to the case.

       – To see all of the third party interventions filed in the case to date (eight in total), click here.

       – To read the state observations of the 33 respondent states in this case, click here

Categories
Domestic court Emissions reductions European Convention on Human Rights France Paris Agreement Sea-level rise Uncategorized

Commune de Grande-Synthe v. France

Summary:
This case was brought to the French Conseil d’Etat by the municipality of Grande-Synthe, which is a low-lying coastal community, against the French government. The plaintiffs alleged that the government had taken insufficient action to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and invoked the European Convention on Human Rights, the Paris Agreement, and domestic environmental regulations.

Admissibility:
The case was declared admissible on 19 November 2020 by the Conseil d’Etat. The Government was given three months to justify its current approach to climate measures. The Conseil d’Etat indicated that the Paris Agreement, and France’s 40% reduction target by 2030 as opposed to 1990 emissions levels, would be used to interpret the State’s obligations.

Merits:
Pending

Remedies:
Pending

Separate opinions:
Pending

Implementation measures taken:
On 1 July 2021, it was announced that, in light of this case, the French Conseil d’État would require the Government to take measures before 31 March 2022 in order to reach the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions totalling 40% by the year 2030.

To achieve the reduction targets set out in the Paris Agreement, meaning a -40% reduction in emissions as compared to 1990 levels, the Government had previously adopted a reductions plan covering four time periods (2015-2018, 2019-2023, 2024-2028 and 2029-2033), each with its own reduction targets. The Conseil d’État observed in its decision of 1 July 2021 that the level of emissions measured in 2019 had respected the annual target set for the period of 2019-2023. However, the 0.9% decrease in emissions observed was too low when compared to the reduction objectives for the previous period (2015-2018), which were 1.9% per year, and compared to the objectives for the following period (2024-2028), which are 3% per year. Provisional data for 2020 might show a significant drop in emissions, but this must be to some extent due to pandemic-related restrictions and must therefore be regarded as “transitory”. It did not, by itself, guarantee that the reductions needed to achieve the 2030 target were being made. The Conseil d’État found that additional efforts were needed in the short term to achieve the target of 12% emissions reductions between 2024 and 2028.

Date:
Pending

Type of Forum:
Domestic

Status of case:
Pending

Suggested case citation:
Decision on the Admissibility: French Conseil d’Etat, Commune de Grande-Synthe and Others v. France, case no. 427301, Admissibility, 19 November 2020.

Links:
http://climatecasechart.com/climate-change-litigation/non-us-case/commune-de-grande-synthe-v-france/