Families from across Europe and beyond are taking the EU to court for its failure to adopt adequate targets for climate action.

The families, including children and the Saami youth in Sweden, claim their livelihoods are at risk from the impacts of climate change and that the EU’s current plans fail to protect them.

The plaintiff families are challenging the EU’s 2030 climate targets in the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) Directive, the Effort Sharing Regulation and the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry Regulation. These rules have recently been approved by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.

The families argue that the amount of greenhouse gas that will still be allowed to be emitted falls well short of what the EU could do to cut emissions.

French grandfather Maurice Feschet (72) explained that 44% of the family’s lavender crop could be lost within six years:

“The EU must now listen to its citizens who are impacted by climate change and implement the necessary measures to protect them.”

The complaint is addressed to the European General Court . It asserts that the EU’s existing 2030 climate target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 is inadequate. They argue there is a real and serious need to prevent dangerous climate change and that not enough is being done to protect their fundamental rights of life, health, occupation and property.

The families come from Portugal, Germany, France, Italy, Romania, Kenya, Fiji, and Sweden and all have personal stories of how climate change is already impacting their livelihoods, homes, traditional family occupations and cultures. They are asking the court to rule that climate change is a human rights issue and the EU must protect their rights, their children’s rights and the rights of future generations.

Sanna Vannar (22), Chair of Youth Association Sáminuorra, said:

“If we lose the reindeer, the Saami culture will be lost. Many of the Saami 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.”

Environmental lawyer Roda Verheyen is representing the families, he 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.

The case is also backed by a broad range of NGOs, scientists and other concerned citizens.

Carl Fechner, Co-Founder of the German group Protect the Planet, which is funding the cases said:

“The People’s Climate Case is demanding more than symbolic acts and speaks for all of humanity and especially for those, who are already affected. This case makes it clear that, we must act now!”

Campaigners have been calling on the EU to adopt more appropriate targets for climate action, including higher, binding targets for improved energy efficiency. However, experts agreed that the final deal struck between the European Parliament and the Council of the EU fell short of what was required to meet commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement.

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You can find out more about the case on the People’s Climate Case website.