On September 2, 2020, six Portuguese youth filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights against 33 countries. The complaint alleges that the respondents have violated human rights by failing to take sufficient action on climate change, and seeks an order requiring them to take more ambitious action.
The complaint relies on Articles 2, 8, and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protect the right to life, right to privacy, and right to not experience discrimination. The complainants claim that their right to life is threatened by the effects of climate change in Portugal such as forest fires; that their right to privacy includes their physical and mental wellbeing, which is threatened by heatwaves that force them to spend more time indoors; and that as young people, they stand to experience the worst effects of climate change.
The case is brought against the Member States of the EU (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden) as well as Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. The complainants allege that the respondents have fallen short of their human rights obligations by failing to agree to emissions reductions that will keep temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as envisioned by the Paris Agreement.
On November 30, 2020, The European Court of Human Rights accepted and fast-tracked the case and communicated the case to 33 defendant countries, requiring them to respond by the end of February 2021. According to the Global Legal Action Network, who are supporting the case, only a tiny minority of cases before the Court are fast-tracked and communicated.