Citizens of Poland, including young climate activists, a grandfather and a farmer, plan to take the government to court over its failure to tackle climate change.
What is Happening?
- The Polish citizens argue that extreme weather events exacerbated by global warming are threatening their individual rights and livelihoods, according to lawsuits filed this week. Environmental law firm ClientEarth, who is representing the individuals, said that two more cases will follow.
Janusz Buszkowski, ClientEarth’s lead lawyer on the cases, said, “A few years back, climate litigation was a complete fantasy, especially in Poland, and now it’s becoming a reality. Examples of climate court litigation with spectacular results outside of Poland were an encouragement for us.”
- The cases are the first to expose the effects of climate change on people living in Poland and to ask courts to find that the country’s inadequate climate policies violate individual rights.
- Momentum is building around the world around the strategy of using courts to force states and companies to pursue more ambitious climate goals following landmark victories in recent weeks. Last month, a court in the Netherlands ordered oil supermajor Dutch to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 45% by 2030 compared to 2019 levels.
You might also like: Shell is Ordered to Slash CO2 Emissions in Landmark Climate Ruling
- Poland’s current policies are inadequate to slow the pace of climate change, according to ClientEarth. Poland is Europe’s most carbon-intensive nation with about 70% of the electricity it generates coming from burning coal. Poland is home to 36 of the 50 most polluted cities in the EU.
- The country has agreed to join EU efforts to cut emissions 55% by 2030, compared to 2019 levels. It wants to reduce coal usage to 11% by 2040 and has agreed with coal unions to close the last mine in 2049.
- According to ClientEarth in the lawsuits, Poland should cut its emissions 61% by 2030 relative to 1990 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2043 to comply with its Paris Agreements commitment. The cases were filed in five different local courts in the hopes that at least one will either rule that claimants have a right to a safe climate, or end up in the country’s Supreme Court.
Buszkowski said, “We have quite a few Polish examples of climate cases and they were so far treated by courts seriously. We believe that the time has come to go at a larger scale and to sue the only entity that’s responsible for the emissions from the whole territory of Poland, which is the Polish state.”
Featured image by: Flickr