The latest youth climate lawsuit challenging the government’s response to the climate crisis has been filed in Sweden. On Friday, November 25 an association called Aurora announced the lawsuit against the Swedish state. The youth-led association, representing over 600 young people born between 1996 and 2015, filed its case as a class-action on behalf of all Swedish youth. Prominent Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is among the plaintiffs.
“Today on Black Friday is the perfect day to sue the state over its insufficient climate policies. So that’s what we did. See you in court!” Thunberg wrote on Twitter.
The lawsuit follows several letters that the youth campaigners sent to government officials, requesting the government investigate and calculate its “fair share” of reducing GHG emissions in line with limiting warming to 1.5°C and then take all necessary measures to achieve its equitable share of emissions reductions. The campaigners contend that Sweden is failing to adequately address emissions and prevent dangerous warming, endangering the fundamental human rights of young people as climate impacts worsen over time, during the expected lifetime of today’s youth.
The youth plaintiffs base their legal claims on alleged violations under the European Convention on Human Rights, including rights to life, private and family life, and non-discrimination (Articles 2, 8, and 14, respectively), and the right to property (Article 1). According to a summary of the case, plaintiffs “ask the court to order the state to implement its fair share of GHG emissions reductions to keep global warming below 1.5°C, by adopting sufficient and adequate procedural and substantive measures to ensure that emissions are continuously reduced and that GHG are absorbed through natural carbon sinks, in order to limit the risk of negative impacts of climate change on them.”
According to a 23-year-old spokesperson for the youth plaintiffs, the lawsuit is part of a larger movement of turning to the courts in the absence of urgent policy responses to the climate emergency.
“People in power don’t seem to realize that large-scale and immediate action is required to prevent it from worsening further,” Ida Edling told Courthouse News. “The global movement of climate litigation has shown that lack of sufficient climate action is irresponsible and unimaginably dangerous and illegal.”