Lisbon / Strasbourg (dpa) – Eight-year-old Mariana and her five young brothers-in-arms are putting Germany and 32 other European countries under great pressure in the fight against climate change.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg has given the green light to an extraordinary complaint by the six children and young people from Portugal. Due to the importance and urgency of the issues raised, priority will be given to the complaint, the ECHR announced on Monday. Now it is the turn of Chancellor Angela Merkel and all the governments involved. They have until the end of February to respond to the allegations.
Mariana is the youngest of the group, the oldest is 21. She accuses all EU countries as well as Norway, Russia, Great Britain, Turkey, Switzerland and Ukraine of aggravating the climate crisis and endangering the future of her generation. bring. Their Goal: The ECHR is believed to encourage climate violators to set their national goals higher and reduce the emissions caused by them and their international companies worldwide.
The news from Strasbourg caused a lot of cheer in Portugal. “It gives me great hope to know that the judges of the European Court of Human Rights recognize the urgency of our case,” said 12-year-old André Oliveira from Lisbon, who is participating with sister Sofia (15). When the lawsuit was filed in early September, little Mariana Agostinho from Leiria said in an interview with the German news agency dpa: “I am very afraid of living on a sick planet.”
The young Portuguese are supported in their fight by the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN). The non-governmental organization speaks of an “unprecedented action”. The decision of the ECHR is now “an important step towards a possible historical assessment of climate change”. The vast majority of lawsuits filed in the Strasbourg court were dismissed and did not reach that stage, it said.
“These brave young people have overcome a major hurdle on their way to a verdict that will force European governments to accelerate their climate action efforts,” GLAN legal counsel Gerry Liston said in response. The news from Strasbourg came just weeks before the EU set its 2030 emissions target.
A reduction of at least 65 percent is needed “for EU Member States to fulfill their obligations to young applicants and countless others,” Liston said. This is the only way to achieve the desired goal of global warming of no more than 1.5 degrees relative to the pre-industrial era. 2020 is expected to be the hottest year on record. If nothing changes, forecasts predict that the average temperature around the world will rise by three degrees by 2100. The melting of the ice threatens not only holiday paradises such as the island states of the Maldives or Tuvalu, but also the Halligen off Germany’s North Sea coast.
The final trigger for Mariana, André & Co. were the devastating fires of 2017 in their homeland, in which more than a hundred people died and vast forest areas were destroyed. ‘That made my penny drop. We have seen the consequences up close and I have noticed how urgent one must be to stop climate change, ”said Mariana’s sister Claudia (21) of the DPA.
Experts have confirmed that climate change played a role in this disaster, GLAN said. Back then – in June 2017 – the images from the Pedrogão Grande region not far from Leiria went around the world: desperate drivers surrounded by the flames published shocking live videos. A country road became a death trap for nearly three dozen people, many burnt beyond recognition in their cars. Thousands of animals died miserably, houses were razed to the ground.
The group, which also includes Claudia’s and Mariana’s brother Martin (17) and Catarina (20), wants to create something more famous climate fighters like Greta Thunberg or Luisa Neubauer were afraid to do. Why is the lawsuit so unique? In fact, you should file a lawsuit in a national court before going to the ECHR. In the case of the fight against cross-border climate change, it was not possible for adolescents to voice their concerns in 33 different countries and bring them to the highest national courts, the argument got away with them.
André, who had to endure a record temperature of 44 degrees in Lisbon in August 2018, continues to rely on the insight of the powerful. “What I want is for governments in Europe to immediately do what scientists believe is necessary to protect our future.” The small but determined “David” also warns the “Goliaths”: “Until they do this, we will fight resolutely than ever.”