Six Portuguese young people have filed a legal complaint at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, France, accusing 33 countries of violating their right to a secure future by failing to take action to mitigate the climate crisis. The youths aged 12 through 21, represented by the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), are targetting countries whose policies on carbon emission reduction they say are too weak to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal of the Paris Agreement, citing the country ratings of the Climate Action Tracker. Named in the suit are the 27 European Union member states, as well as the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine.
Their complaint comes after lethal wildfires in Portugal in 2017 killed more than 120 people. Researchers have linked the intensity of the 2017 fires to global warming. The case is also being filed after Portugal recorded its hottest July in the last 90 years.
“I am afraid for my future,” petitioner Catarina Mota, 20, told reporters during a virtual press conference from her home in Leiria, in central Portugal. “I live with the feeling that every year my home becomes a more hostile place. If I have children, what kind of world shall I bring them up in? These are real concerns that I have every day… After the 2017 fires we realized that we must change and urgently stop climate change.” (Climate Home News, DW)
A similar legal action has been launched by a group of youth in Australia, seeking an injunction to stop approval of a license extension at Whitehaven Coal‘s Vickery mine in New South Wales, arguing that it would threaten the futures of young people all over the world by exacerbating climate change. Izzy Raj-Seppings, 13, lead plaintiff in the case, filed the injunction along with seven other young people aged 13 to 17—many of whom met during the School Strike 4 Climate protests. The Sydney high school student made headlines last year when police ordered her to move on after holding a protest outside the prime minister’s Kirribilli residence. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)