Environmentalists & farmers take EU to court over climate change
Extreme dryness in 80% of the territory, summer thunderstorms and hurricane Ofelia were behind the wave of forest fires in Portugal in 2017, destroying more than 100,000 hectares of forest and killing more than 100 people.
One forest producer has lost 12 hectares and his family is one of the 10 who are suing the European Union in court for, they say, taking insufficient action to halt the climatic alterations. In a skype interview with euronews he says the livlihoods of millions of citizens are at risk.
"We rapidly have to find new solutions to deal with the problems that are arising. Europe, namely the EU institutions, cannot be distant or just treat these problems as minor, they are extremely serious. This is a problem that it is not only environmental but concern security of European citizens," says forester Armando Carvalho.
The 10 families are from six European countries, plus Kenya and Fiji, and are represented by 3 lawyers working pro-bono in an action to be presented before the European General Court in Luxembourg , with expenses paid by German NGO Protect the Planet.
In Brussels this Thursday they explained the case with 100 pages of legal arguments and scientific data.
"The court is being actually asked to say that these laws are not good enough; they are not legal, so to nullify them, to the extent that they allow too many emissions from greenhouse gases to go on until 2030. The other part of what they are asking is in substance the same but it is called an injunction: you are arguing that we have damage already so plase do not aggravate that damage; stop what you are doing," says the lawyer for the palintiffs, Roda Verheyen.
The case accuses the European Council and European Parliament of not doing enough, because the existing 2030 climate target is not enough to stop climate change. Some want the European Commission to be more ambitious.
"It is very important that, this year, the European Commisiion presents this long-term plan because the Commission has the right of initiative. If we have good intentions to achieve our goals and our commitments, then I think, in the court, that we will present a better picture," says German Socialist MEP Jo Leinen.
The is the first time a court case has been brought against the EU body, but there are other cases being brought at a national level in Belgium, Ireland, and the Netherlands to name but three.
There are 30 cases outside the EU and one federal case in the USA, as well as others in Pakistan, India and the Philippines.