Individuals join growing global trend of citizens bringing climate change litigation in a bid to hold governments to account.

By Paul A. Davies and Michael D. Green

The European General Court has agreed to hear a legal challenge to EU climate legislation for inadequate targets for reducing climate change. Ten families from around the world brought a petition claiming that EU legislation offered insufficient protection, posing a threat to their human rights. The European Parliament (EP) and European Union Council (Council) likely will respond to the petition within approximately eight weeks.

The case is unprecedented in the EU. The 10 families include citizens from Kenya, Fiji, Portugal, Germany, France, Italy, Romania, and the Saami Youth Association Saminuorra (in Sweden). Significantly, though some of these individuals live outside the EU, they are claiming to have EU human rights. This is because the actions that they claim breach these rights take place in the EU, in particular, as a result of excessive greenhouse gas emissions. EU Member States are cumulatively the third largest global emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG).