Portugal: Children crowdfunding to take countries to Strasbourg over climate policies

Marc Willers QC

Schoolchildren in Portugal affected by one of the country’s worst forest fires are crowdfunding to sue 47 European countries over their failure to address climate change, which they say is threatening their right to life.

Children from the Leiria region of central Portugal, where fires claimed 60 lives this summer, are being represented by English barristers in their bid to change the law, The Guardian reports.

With the help of NGO Global Legal Action Network (Glan), they are seeking £35,000 to bring a case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Lawyers would like the court to confirm countries must enhance their emissions reductions policies and commit to keeping most of their fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

Marc Willers QC of Garden Court Chambers said: “This case intends to build on the successes which have been achieved through climate change litigation across the world so far.

“It will be unique because it will be the first case in which multiple governments are brought before a court at the one time in relation to their failure to properly tackle climate change.

“Climate change poses a major and increasingly worsening threat to a number of human rights and governments in Europe are simply not doing enough to address it.”

A 14-year-old member the group said: “Climate change causes many problems, but if I had to name the ones that worry me the most, it would be the sea level rise, which leads to the destruction of shores and infrastructure such as dams, roads and houses, and also the increase in the number of forest fires that we’ve been observing lately – especially this summer, as the fires caused many deaths and left our country in mourning.”

The action will target 47 countries including the UK, Ireland, Germany and France.

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