Press Releases

Wednesday, 5 December 14:00, Press Conference Room Area F—Theatre at COP 24 Venue in Katowice

On Wednesday 5 December, plaintiffs, lawyers and campaigners representing six climate cases around the world will attend the UN climate talks in Katowice to share updates about the legal actions that aim to ensure that national governments deliver the urgent cuts in emissions necessary to avert catastrophic climate change.

Tessa Khan: climate lawyer, Urgenda Foundation, Netherlands, speaking about the historic Dutch climate case
Vic Barrett: plaintiff in the legal action against the US federal government
Catherine Gauthier: plaintiff in the legal action against the government of Canada
Clodagh Daly: plaintiff in the legal action against the government of Ireland
Lisa Goeldner: plaintiff in the legal action against the government of Germany
Wendel Trio: director of CAN Europe in support of the legal action against the European Union

The press conference will be livestreamed here:

There has been a global surge in climate change litigation, currently estimated to include more than 1000 climate change cases worldwide. This includes cases that aim to hold governments directly responsible for climate change, starting with the landmark Urgenda case against the Dutch Government in 2015 in which a court ordered the government to significantly reduce the Netherlands’ emissions by 2020. In October this year, the Dutch Government lost their appeal against that decision, creating a powerful new legal precedent for climate litigation.

In 2018, people around the world kept turning to the courts as politicians failed to deliver anything close to the necessary level of climate change mitigation. In Germany, three Germany families filed a case against the national Government in October arguing that the government is violating their constitutional rights to life and health, property and occupational freedom by failing to take measures to meet the German national 2020 climate protection target.

In November in Canada, a group of young Canadians initiated an action against their government alleging that it is infringing upon their generation’s fundamental rights by failing to enact a more ambitious emissions reduction target, and for failing to even take the steps needed to meet the current weak target.

In May, 10 families from the EU and outside, together with the Saami youth, filed a case in the EU’s General Court claiming that the EU’s low 2030 target for reducing emissions is in breach of their fundamental rights, including rights to life, health, occupation and property. On the other side of the wold, a group of young people in Colombia won a groundbreaking climate case in April against the Colombian government in which the Supreme Court ordered the Government to create an intergenerational pact for the life of Colombian Amazon.

2019 promises to continue this trend, starting in January when the case brought by Friends of the Irish Environment against the Government of Ireland challenging the lawfulness of its National Mitigation Plan will be heard in the High Court in Dublin. The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment recently weighed in on the case, stating that ‘the Government of Ireland has clear, positive and enforceable obligations to protect against the infringement of human rights by climate change.’

The 21 young people who filed a landmark case against the US federal government seeking comprehensive measures for ‘climate recovery’ may also finally get their day in court after multiple delays caused by a series of challenges by the Trump administration. The long-awaited defence arguments of the Belgian Government in the climate case brought by over 39,000 Belgian citizens should also be filed in 2019, and judgment is also expected in the case brought by over 1,000 senior Swiss women challenging the sufficiency of Switzerland’s national mitigation policies. Judging by the current rate at which these cases are being filed against governments, this is likely to only be tip of the (melting) iceberg in 2019.


Goksen Sahin, CAN Europe Communications Coordinator,, +32 468 45 39 20

Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe is Europe's leading NGO coalition fighting dangerous climate change. With over 150 member organisations from 35 European countries, representing over 1.700 NGOs and more than 40 million citizens, CAN Europe promotes sustainable climate, energy and development policies throughout Europe.

Contact Communications


Nicolas Derobert
Communications Coordinator 
nicolas /at/ 
Work: +32 2894 4673
Mobile: +32 483 621 888


Stevan Vujasinović
Communications Coordinator for Southeast Europe
stevan /at/ 
Mobile: +381 (0)63 390 218


Goksen Sahin
Communications Coordinator
goksen /at/ 
Work: +32 2893 0827
Mobile: +32 468 453 920

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