The European Court of Justice has rejected a bid by a Scandinavian youth group and families around the world for the EU to set more ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, arguing that they were not individually affected by Europe’s climate policy.
Those behind the lawsuit expressed disappointment at the ruling, but said they were determined to keep fighting for faster action against climate change. Families from Kenya, Fiji, Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, and Romania, along with the Swedish Sami Youth organization launched the legal action in 2018. They hoped to draw attention to the impact that climate policy had on individuals.
A lower court (the European General Court) acknowledged that the plaintiffs are generally affected by climate change but rejected the case in 2019 on procedural grounds. The families and youth group appealed to the European Court of Justice, which upheld the lower court’s decision Thursday, saying the plaintiffs “are not individually concerned” by the EU’s climate legislation so the case won’t be heard.
Plaintiff, Alfredo Sendim (pictured), a Portuguese farmer who has struggled with season after season of drought, said “the court’s decision is disappointing, but we will not give up. We will continue seeking protection of our rights and demand climate protection.” After the legal effort was launched, the European Commission proposed a “European Green Deal” with more ambitious goals toward fighting climate change. European Union leaders reached a deal last year to cut the bloc’s net greenhouse gas emissions at least 55% by 2030 compared with 1990 levels, more than the previous goal of 40%.
EU’s top court rejects effort to force tougher climate rules, Associated Press, 2021-03-25