2022 Austria Belgium Cyprus Denmark European Court of Human Rights France Germany Greece Luxembourg Private and family life Right to life Sweden Switzerland The Netherlands The United Kingdom

Soubeste and 4 other applications v. Austria and 11 other States

On 21 June 2022, it was reported that an application had been filed at the European Court of Human Rights concerning membership in the Energy Charter Treaty of 1994 (ECT), which entered into force in 1998. The case was brought by five young people, aged between 17 and 31, who allege that the 12 respondent States’ membership of the ECT stymies climate action, thereby violating their rights under Articles 2 (right to life) and 8 (right to respect for private and family life) ECHR.

It was further reported that the 12 respondent States in this case are Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and Britain. In these States, corporate actors in the fossil fuel sector can bring legal action against the respective governments for losses of profits due to energy-related measures, thereby raising the costs of the green energy transition or making it illusory. The applicants argue that their Convention rights have been violated as a result.

In this regard, the IPCC pointed out in Chapter 14 of Working Group III report in the Sixth Assessment Cycle in 2022 (available here) that “bilateral and multilateral agreements, including the 1994 Energy Charter Treaty, include provisions for using a system of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) designed to protect the interests of investors in energy projects from national policies that could lead their assets to be stranded. Numerous scholars have pointed to ISDS being able to be used by fossil-fuel companies to block national legislation aimed at phasing out the use of their assets”. It also noted that “international investment agreements may lead to ‘regulatory chill’, which may lead to countries refraining from or delaying the adoption of mitigation policies, such as phasing out fossil fuels”.

Status of case:

Adjourned until the Grand Chamber has ruled in the climate change cases pending before it (see the ECtHR’s press release here).

Suggested case citation:

European Court of Human Rights, Soubeste and 4 other applications v. Austria and 11 other States (nos. 31925/22, 31932/22, 31938/22, 31943/22, and 31947/22), application filed on 21 June 2022 (not yet communicated).

Last updated:

15 March 2023

Austria Belgium Bulgaria Children and young people Croatia Cyprus Czechia Denmark Emissions reductions/mitigation 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. (“Portuguese Children’s Case”)

This case was brought by a group of six young people, acting together as the ‘Youth for Climate Justice’, against 33 Council of Europe Member States. Theirs is the first climate case to come before the ECtHR. In their application, the six applicants, who are aged between 8 and 21, argue that the 33 respondent States have failed to comply with their positive obligations under Articles 2 and 8 of the Convention, read in the light of the commitments made under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. They claim that their right to life (Art. 2 ECHR) is being threatened by the effects of climate change in their home State of Portugal, including through the harms caused by forest fires. Moreover, they claim that their right to respect for their private and family life under Art. 8 ECHR is being threatened by heatwaves that force them to spend more time indoors. They also note their anxiety about their uncertain future, and the fact that, as young people, they stand to experience the worst effects of climate change. They accordingly allege a violation of Article 14 ECHR (non-discrimination), given the particular impacts of climate change on their generation. According to the applicants, the absence of adequate measures to limit global emissions constitutes, in itself, a breach of the obligations incumbent on States.

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.

Domestic proceedings:
None. This case was brought directly to the ECtHR. The applicants submit that, given the complexity of the case and their limited financial means, as well as the limited prospects of success before domestic instances, requiring them to exhaust the domestic remedies in each of the 33 respondent States would impose an excessive and disproportionate burden on them.


On 29 June 2022, the 7-judge Chamber to which the case had originally been allocated relinquished jurisdiction over it in favour of the Court’s 17-judge Grand Chamber. Relinquishment is possible where a case either (a) raises a serious question affecting the interpretation of the Convention or its Protocols, or (b) might lead to a result inconsistent with the Court’s case-law (Rule 72, paras 1-2 of the Rules of Court).

In February 2023, the Court announced that it would hold a public Grand Chamber hearing in this case, along with two other climate cases pending before it (Carême v. France and KlimaSeniorinnen and Others v. Switzerland). It announced that it would adjourn the remaining climate cases pending before it in the meantime. The oral stage in these three cases is staggered: Carême and KlimaSeniorinnen were heard on 29 March 2023, while the hearing in Duarte Agostinho was heard by the same composition of the Grand Chamber on 27 September 2023.

Grand Chamber hearing:
A hearing in this case was held on 27 September 2023. A webcast of the hearing is available here.

During the hearing, the respondent States pooled their submissions to a large extent, with additional arguments from the Netherlands, Portugal, and Turkiye. Third-party interveners also received leave to appear during the oral hearing, namely the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, the EU’s European Commission, and the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI). The substance of the hearing focused largely on admissibility issues, namely victim status, the (non-)exhaustion of domestic remedies and the extraterritoriality of Convention obligations. The judges also asked a number of questions to the parties before retiring to consider the admissibility and merits of the case.




Separate opinions:

Implementation measures taken:


Type of Forum:

Status of case:
Communicated by the Court on 30 November 2020. Relinquished to the Grand Chamber on 29 June 2022. Grand Chamber hearing held on 27 September 2023.

Suggested case citation:
ECtHR, Duarte Agostinho and Others v. Portugal and 32 Other Member States, no. 39371/20, Communicated Case, 30 November 2020, relinquished to the Grand Chamber on 29 June 2022.

For more information on this case, see the following links.

  • For more background on the case and profiles on the applicants, click here:
  • For all of the case documents, including the submissions from the respondent States and the third-party interveners, see here.
  • For analyses of the Grand Chamber hearing, see this post on our own blog by Viktoriya Gurash, or this post on Verfassungsblog by Corina Heri.

Last updated:
5 October 2023