Group announce legal action against the EU for failing to protect them against climate change

Lawyers acting on behalf of a group of families are now taking legal action against the EU, claiming that they aren’t getting enough protection against the effects of climate change at that they are being failed. Litigants include families and individuals across a number of countries, including Portugal, Germany, Romania and France; as well as from the Swedish Sami Youth Association Saminuorra. The group are taking action against the European parliament and the council of the EU.

Who is taking action?

Maurice Feschet, a lavender farmer in Grignan, Provence claims he’s lost 44% of his harvest in the last six years because of climate change. He said in a recent interview: “My family has been farming here since the 1800s. I am taking this action for my 38-year-old son who lives on the farm. We want him to continue to be able to farm, but it is not going to be easy. There must be more done.”

Another farmer, Alfredo Sendim from Portugal added that the changes in climate have left doubts over the long term sustainability of his business. He said: “Last year we had almost the entire year without a drop of rain. Then we had two weeks and all the rain that we should have had fell.”

Sanna Vannar, 22, the chair of Sáminuorra in Sweden added: “If we lose the reindeers, the Sami culture will be lost. Many of the Sami youth want to stay with their families and be reindeer herders, but they cannot see a future. This is mostly due to the threat of climate change. This must be urgently addressed for the safety of our generation and the next generations.”

What are the claims?

Under the existing climate change targets, the EU has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by the year 2020 compared to the levels seen in 1990. However, the group claim that these targets aren’t enough and the EU needs to make higher targets for the reduction of emissions. They also claim that by allowing these high levels of greenhouse gas emissions to continue until 2030, they’re fundamental rights of health, life, occupation and property aren’t being protected.

Roda Verheyen, the lawyer acting on behalf of the families, said: “Climate change is already an issue for the courts in the European countries and around the world. The plaintiff families are putting their trust in the EU courts and legal system to protect their fundamental rights of life, health, occupation and property which are under threat of climate change. The EU courts must now listen to these families and ensure that they are protected.”

Wendel Trio, the director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, said: “This is part of a strategy to get the EU institutions to increase their targets. In 2015, as part of the Paris agreement, countries agreed to pursue efforts to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C. Yet, it is clear that the existing EU 2030 climate target is not enough to respect the commitments taken in the Paris agreement and should be increased. The EU needs under the agreement to confirm its target by 2020. This legal action initiated by normal families impacted by climate change is underlining the urgency and the necessity to increase it.

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