The People’s Climate Case is one of the most well-known climate disputes. In it, 36 people from different countries of the European Union (including Germany, France, Italy, Portugal and Romania) and beyond (such as Kenya and Fiji) together with an organization Saami Youth Association Sáminuorra faced the European Parliament and the Council. The resulting lawsuit is known as the People’s Climate Case. In it, these citizens, who worked mainly in the agricultural and tourism sector, argued together with the organization that their livelihoods are affected by climate change, among other things. In their view, the European Union would not do enough to combat dangerous climate change or to protect them from the effects of climate change. To this end, the EU target to implement the agreements made at the climate conference in Paris to reduce greenhouse gases by 40 percent by 2030 is insufficient, according to citizens. That is why the European Parliament and the Council have been brought before a European court and concrete measures have been demanded that will lead to a greater limitation of greenhouse gas emissions.
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Urgenda is another high-profile case that was pursued against the government due to insufficient climate policy. In the meantime, this climate case against the Dutch state about reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25% in 2020 compared to 1990 has also gained international fame. This was the first case in Europe in which an NGO (St. Urgenda) and 886 citizens approached the government about the dangerous consequences of climate change and stated that the government has a duty of care and must therefore take action to protect the citizens. The reason behind this climate issue was an increasing number of disturbing reports from scientists and analyses from the IPCC, on the basis of which almost all countries of the world decided in Paris in 2015 that the global temperature rise should be limited as much as possible. According to the plaintiffs, the Dutch state admittedly recognized the urgency of the climate problem but took too few measures to prevent dangerous climate change. That is why the plaintiffs have started the Urgenda climate case against the Dutch state. On the basis of the unlawful act provision from the Dutch Civil Code, the court ruled in the first instance that the Dutch State has a duty of care, which it has not complied with due to insufficient action in the context of climate policy. According to the court, the Dutch state acted unlawfully against St. Urgenda and had to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% in 2020 compared to 1990. The Dutch state appealed against this decision. However, on October 9, 2018, the appeal brought by the Dutch state was dismissed by the court of appeal. According to the Court of Appeal, the duty of care existed not only on the basis of the national provision, but also in view of human rights as enshrined in Articles 2 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The Dutch state’s appeal in cassation was also to no avail and they were definitively wrong on 20 December 2019. Contrary to the People’s Climate Case, the Urgenda climate case was successful at the national level.
Dutch Environmental Defence (Milieudefensie)against Shell is a more recent challenge in terms of climate justice that citizens entered in the Netherlands. This time, however, it is a matter of Dutch Environmental Defence (Milieudefensie), a climate and environmental organization and 17,000 co-plaintiffs against a well-known company Shell. Again, the plaintiffs refer to it in 2015 by 196 countries signed climate agreement in Paris which agreed to as much as possible to limit the global average temperature increase, the dearest among 1.5 degrees. According to the plaintiffs, Shell says it embraces this climate agreement, but in practice, however, the opposite would appear, and Shell would continue to focus on extracting oil and gas, but also delaying environmental legislation for example the ‘regulatory chill’. Shell thereby causes serious climate damage, according to the plaintiffs. After all, they believe that Shell does not take its own responsibility not to harm society and the climate, while Shell as one of the largest polluters on earth (number 9 to be precise) does. That includes not only according to prosecutors respecting the climate agreement in Paris, but also the rights that are threatened under. That is why Milieudefensie and co-plaintiffs go to court. The underlying aim is that Shell is thus forced to causing dangerous climate damage or shifting. The actual requirement is that Shell 45% less CO2 emissions in 2030 compared to 2019. Some compensation is not applied in this case and is therefore tantamount to a change. The plaintiffs are in fact convinced that if Shell through this lawsuit is forced to take on would have to drill for oil and gas, this enormous impact on the climate. In essence, Milieudefensie’s climate case can be described as a preventive action to ensure that (further) climate damage is prevented.
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