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The people’s climate case declared inadmissible: not all climate litigation roads lead to Rome

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van Thuyne Gauthier
Gauthier van Thuyne



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Goossens Fee
Fee Goossens



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02 April 2021

In the past years (and months), there has been a growing wave of climate change litigation cases, and the cases where plaintiffs have (successfully) invoked fundamental rights are increasing. In our previous two articles (which can be found here and here), we made an in-depth analysis of the status of current climate litigation in courts around the world. 
In a recent judgment dated 25 March 2021, the Court of Justice was asked to look into an appeal case against an order of the General Court, in which a number of individuals sought to force the EU to adopt more stringent greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and annul the EU legislative package on greenhouse gas emission reductions. 

Whilst the subject matter to the annulment case is the protection of fundamental rights in the context of climate change, the real issues at stake in this case are procedural in nature: the Court of Justice had to examine whether the General Court was entitled to find that the plaintiffs were not direct and individually concerned by the EU- legislative package on greenhouse gas emission reductions, and thus, had no locus standi to initiate an annulment request. The claim that the protection of fundamental rights of the plaintiffs were at stake, does not change that assessment.

The inroad may have been topical, the outcome is old wine in a new bottle.