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Climate leader Greta Thunberg was among 636 young adults and children who filed a class-action lawsuit against the Swedish government at a district court in Stockholm on Friday, arguing that the country’s right-wing leaders are not following the Swedish constitution when they continue to allow. extraction of fossil fuels for warming the planet.
About 2,000 people marched through Stockholm last Friday at the 223rd “school strike” against climate action—part of the global Fridays for Future movement Thunberg began 2018 with a one-man protest outside Sweden’s Riksdag.
Thunberg and her fellow plaintiffs symbolically submitted their lawsuit to the district court, following an earlier official application from Aurora, the organization leading the lawsuit.
“Today on Black Friday is the perfect day to sue the state for its inadequate climate policy,” Thunberg tweetedreferring to the holiday shopping day that originated in the U.S. “So that’s what we did. See you in court!”
Sweden passed a law in 2017 requiring the government to cut its fossil fuel emissions to zero by 2045, but Central Bureau of Statistics reported earlier this year that greenhouse gas emissions increased by 3% in 2021 compared to the previous year, driven by the transport sector.
“If we win, there will be a judgment saying that the Swedish state is obliged to do its part of the global measures needed for the world to meet the 1.5° target.”
The right-wing government that took power last month after September’s election has proposed a budget for 2023 that would further increase emissions. It also eliminated the Environment Ministry, which left advocates for climate action waiting “major cuts in green funding leading to a devastating impact on climate policy.”
“The Swedish state cannot meet the constitutional requirement to promote sustainable development that leads to a good environment for current and future generations”, Aurora said in a statement on Friday.
Ida Edling, member of the organization, told Agence France Presse that the trial is the first “large-scale case in the Swedish legal system.”
The lawsuit calls for the government to take its “fair share” of global action to help limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures, in line with the Paris climate agreement.
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) said in a report last month that there is currently “no credible pathway to 1.5°C in place” because governments continue to support fossil fuel extraction.
“If we win, there will be a judgment saying that the Swedish state is obliged to do its part of the global measures needed for the world to reach the 1.5° target”, Edling told Al Jazeera.
On Friday, some of the plaintiffs carried a sign with the text “Now we are suing the state” at the march through Stockholm.
The plaintiffs are the latest climate activists to use the legal system to force policymakers to heed the warnings of energy experts and climate scientists.
Supreme Court of the Netherlands ruled 2019 that the government must reduce the country’s emissions of greenhouse gases by 25%.
Another case brought by six Portuguese youths is pending in the European Court of Human Rights, where the plaintiffs claimed that 33 countries, including Sweden, have violated human rights by failing to mitigate the climate crisis.
Greta Thunberg joins 630+ young people in a remarkable climate process against Sweden
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