LISBON, Portugal (AP) — A top European court is forcing 33 governments to prove they are cutting emissions in line with the requirements of the 2015 Paris climate accord.
The European Court of Human Rights has also rejected an attempt by those governments in the same case to overturn its decision to fast-track an ambitious climate change action brought by six young Portuguese activists.
The activists allege that the countries’ efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions are inadequate.
The governments had asked the court to drop its priority status for the case and hear their argument that the case is inadmissible, the activists’ legal representatives said in a statement Friday.
But in the latest legal victory for the activists, the court dismissed the governments’ arguments against an urgent hearing and denied their application to defer scrutiny of their climate policies, the statement said.
The governments now have until May 27 to submit their legal defense.
“This is another major step toward securing a decision from the court which compels (the) governments to take the urgent action necessary to safeguard the futures of the youth applicants and their generation,” said Gerry Liston of the Global Legal Action Network, an international nonprofit organization that challenges human rights violations and which is assisting the activists.
GLAN has launched a crowdfunding appeal to support the case.
The two young Portuguese adults and four children filed their claim last September at the Strasbourg, France-based court.
The countries named in the complaint include the 27 member nations of the European Union plus the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine.
If the activists win their case, the countries would be legally bound to cut emissions in line with the requirements of the Paris climate accord. They would also have to address their role in overseas emissions, including by their multinational companies.