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ECHR response to the five young climate victims on the ECT case

Clémentine Baldon, 13 February 2023

[English] [français]

In June 2022, five young people hit by climate disasters filed a lawsuit with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against European states for allowing a highly controversial treaty to impede their transition away from fossil fuels. The treaty, known as the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), which protects foreign investments in fossil fuels, is widely regarded as a major obstacle to climate action threatening the future of generations to come.

On 9 February 2023, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHr) publicly announced that it decided to adjourn the case pending the examination by the Grand Chamber of three other climate cases: Verein Klimaseniorinnen Schweiz and Others v. Switzerland, Carême v. France and Duarte Agostinho and Others v. Portugal and 32 Others. This follows a prior correspondence sent to the applicants informing them that Court had taken this decision.

Questions raised in the three cases are closely connected to several arguments put forward in the application, notably the recognition that Articles 2 and 8 of the Convention entail a positive obligation on States to fight climate change. The findings of the Court in these cases – but not only – will therefore be decisive in the assessment of the case.

In two of these cases (Verein Klimaseniorinnen Schweiz and Carême), hearings will be held on 29 March 2023 (press release of the Court of 3 February 2023). No precise date has yet been scheduled for a hearing in the Duarte Agostinho case, but it is expected to be held “soon after the 2023 summer judicial recess”.

It is noteworthy that the Court likewise decided to adjourn the examination of five other “climate change” case raising similar questions. Two other cases were declared inadmissible because the applicants could not be granted victim status in accordance with the Convention.

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