Young victims of the climate crisis launched today legal action at Europe’s top human rights court against an energy treaty that protects fossil fuel investors.
The claimants argue that their governments’ membership in the “energy charter treaty” (ECT) is a dangerous obstacle to taking action on the climate crisis. The treaty enables fossil fuel companies to sue governments for lost profits.
This marks the first time that the Strasbourg court will be asked to consider the little-known treaty.
The claimants are suing 12 ECHR member states, including the UK, France, and Germany. These countries are home to companies that have been active users of the ECT charter.
Claimants have argued that membership of the ECT violates the right to life and the right to respect for private and family life of the European convention on human rights, articles two and eight respectively.
The ECT has come under harsher scrutiny lately. The treaty has about 55 memes countries, including EU countries, the UK and Japan. It has been described as a real threat to the Paris agreement to prevent climate disaster and global warming.
The ETC has huge financial attachments to it. could allow companies to sue governments for an estimated whopping €1.3 trillion until 2050 in compensation for early closure of fossil fuel plants, such as coal, oil and gas.
Activists say these enormous sums would stymie the needed green transition, and that time is running out to stave off the most catastrophic effects of global warming.
Fossil fuel companies are already cashing in on the treaty. German energy company RWE is suing the Netherlands for approximately $1.5 billion over its plans to phase out coal. UK-based Rockhopper Exploration is suing the Italian government after it banned new drilling near the coast.
The five people are aged between 17 and 31. They have all experienced devastating floods, forest fires and hurricanes. One claimant, 17-year-old Julia, said she joined the legal challenge after catastrophic lethal floods devastated her home region in Germany last summer.