Claudia, 24, Martim, 20, and Mariana, 11, are among six young Portuguese persons who have filed a case against 32 nations, including all EU member states, the United Kingdom, Norway, Russia, Switzerland, and Turkey.
They accuse the countries of taking insufficient action on climate change and failing to cut greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently to meet the Paris Agreement’s aim of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The case is the first of its sort to be filed before Strasbourg’s European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
If it is successful, the governments concerned may face legally binding repercussions. The case’s first hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
Aged from 11 to 24, the six claimants argue that the forest fires that have occurred in Portugal each year since 2017 are a direct result of global warming.
They claim that their fundamental human rights – including the right to life, privacy, family life and to be free from discrimination – are being violated due to governments’ reluctance to fight climate change.
They say they have already been experiencing significant impacts, especially because of extreme temperatures in Portugal forcing them to spend time indoors and restricting their ability to sleep, concentrate or exercise. Some also suffer from eco-anxiety, allergies and respiratory conditions including asthma.
None of the young applicants is seeking financial compensation.