Young climate activists challenging 32 governments to get their day in court

Six young climate activists in Portugal are challenging 32 European governments in court for failing to adequately address climate change, marking the first climate change case filed with the European Court of Human Rights.

Background: The lawsuit was initiated by Portuguese young adults and children between 11 and 24 years old.
* The case accuses 32 European governments of violating their human rights due to inadequate efforts to combat climate change.
* Their suit posits that climate crises have disrupted sleep, concentration, outdoor play time, and created health issues like heat waves and polluted air due to wildfires.

Legal Power: A victory at the European Court of Human Rights could force governments to adopt radical changes to climate regulations.
* The Court’s rulings are legally binding on member countries, opening the door for financial penalties if governments fail to comply.
* Notably, last month in Montana, a judge ruled in favour of young environmental activists, stating state agencies violated their constitutional rights by enabling fossil fuel development.

Evidence and Support: Dramatic environmental changes in Portugal over recent years provide a backdrop to their case.
* The Praia do Norte beach has lost over 700 meters due to coastal erosion, an example of evidence activists point to showing that the climate crisis is worsening.
* The six are being assisted by the Global Legal Action Network, an international nonprofit organization that challenges human rights violations.
* Their cause has attracted global support, including messages from as far as Japan, India and Brazil via a crowdfunding campaign.

Waiting on the Verdict: The court decision, which might take up to 18 months, could set a global precedent.
* Fast-tracking of the proceedings by the court in 2020 is seen as encouraging by the activists.
* The activists referenced a case where the Dutch Supreme Court found in favor of Dutch organization Urgenda Foundation against the Dutch government, forcing it to shut down coal-fired power plants and invest in renewable energy.

View original article on NPR

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