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Austrians, NGO bring climate suit to Europe rights court

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
Austrians, NGO bring climate suit to Europe rights court
Austria's statistical agency says summer heatwaves were linked to higher death rates during hot weeks this summer. (Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP)

Four Austrians and an NGO have taken the Austrian government to the European rights court for not doing enough to replace fossil fuels with clean energy, the group said Friday.

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The move is part of a growing worldwide trend of organisations and individuals turning to courts to challenge what they see as government inaction on preventing climate change.

The complaint was submitted on behalf of four Austrian citizens who say they have been adversely affected by extreme weather events caused by climate change, and by Austrian NGO Global 2000, its spokesman Johannes Wahlmueller told AFP.

The lives of organic farmer Monika Jasansky, retiree Peter Fliegenschnee, Mayor Friedrich Pichler, and activist Klara Butz, have all been impacted by either drought, heatwaves or mudslides, said Wahlmueller.

The complaint was filed earlier this week at the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), said Wahlmueller. Contacted by AFP, the ECHR said it hadn't yet received the complaint. The suit was originally filed with Austria's administrative court in 2021, but was rejected. In late June, Austria's constitutional court also rejected the lawsuit, ruling that the government has leeway to decide on what measures it takes to achieve climate goals, as long as they are sufficient.

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But according to the plaintiffs, the measures taken by the Austrian government will "miss the targets", thus failing to protect its citizens. They call on the government to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy by 2040 at the latest. Earlier this year, an Austrian court rejected a lawsuit brought by 12 minors who accused the government of failing to revise a climate protection law, which they said insufficiently protects their constitutional rights.

Other lawsuits, including by six Portuguese citizens accusing dozens of European countries of having failed their commitments in the fight against climate change, have already been filed at the ECHR.

READ ALSO: Electrical storms end heatwave as Austria set for one of warmest years on record

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