A group of children and young adults from Portugal have filed a climate change case with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, claiming governments are endangering their futures by failing to reduce emissions.

Four children and two young adults have brought the case against 33 countries with the support of the Global Legal Action Network. The crowd funded legal action centres on the threat which climate change poses to their lives and to their physical and mental wellbeing. If successful, it could force countries to ramp up emissions cuts and tackle overseas contributions to climate change.

The UK, Switzerland, Norway, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine are among the countries being sued.

Marc Willers QC of London’s Garden Court Chambers, lead counsel in the case, said: ‘Human rights arguments have been at the centre of many of the recent climate change cases brought in domestic courts in Europe. But in many of those cases the courts have upheld clearly inadequate climate change policies as being compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

‘One of our aims in bringing this case is to encourage domestic courts to take decisions that force European governments into taking the action needed to address the climate emergency.’

Gerry Liston, legal officer at the Global Legal Action Network added: ‘This case is being filed at a time when European governments are planning to spend billions to restore economies hit by Covid-19. If they are serious about their legal obligations to prevent climate catastrophe, they will use this money to ensure a radical and rapid transition away from fossil fuels. For the EU specifically this means committing to a minimum 65% emissions reduction target by 2030. There is no true recovery if it is not a green recovery.’