A litigation action against the European Union was announced by a group of ten families, which is collectively called the People’s Climate Case. They come from Portugal, Germany, France, Italy, Romania, Kenya, Fiji, and the Sami Youth Association Sáminuorra.
The group is being represented by environmental lawyer Roda Verheyen, and states that their "homes, livelihoods, traditional family occupation and culture" are all being devastated by climate change and it's the EU's responsibility to take strong action and prevent further destruction from rising temperatures and sea levels.
"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," Verheyen told the Independent.
“The EU courts must now listen to these families and ensure that they are protected."
The plaintiffs are demanding that the EU improve its forestry regulations, how it regulates public and private land use, and its emission trading scheme directive. They want no financial compensation, only immediate policy change and action.
Maurice Feschet is a member of the family from France amongst the plaintiffs. He says that in the last six years, their Provence farm has lost over 40 percent of its harvest, which he says are “due to the impacts of climate change hitting us harder and harder.”
“In European politics, there is a concrete urgency to take a step back and consider the principles of democracy,” he added.
“The EU must now listen to its citizens who are impacted by climate change and implement the necessary measures to protect them.”
Feschet told the Guardian, "My family has been farming here since the 1800s. I am taking this action for my 38-year-old son who lives on the farm. We want him to continue to be able to farm, but it is not going to be easy. There must be more done."
In northern Europe, the Sami people depend on certain weather conditions for their way of life, which is deeply connected to raising and herding reindeer. Reindeer are suffering from the rising temperatures. Sanna Vannar, the president of Sami youth association Saminuorra, says this would destroy the community.
“If we lose the reindeer, the Sami culture will be lost,” said Vannar.
“Many of the Sami youth want to 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.”
There is some hope for their case; in 2015, the Dutch government was ordered by a court to reduce their emissions by 25 percent within five years, though they are appealing the ruling. If the People's Climate Case were to win, it would have a resounding effect on a huge number of countries, but even pushing it as far as they can go will bring much needed attention to the rights of workers and families being destroyed by the government policies ushering in climate change.
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