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Young people are suing Europe’s governments over climate change

Young Portuguese citizens (C) arrive at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, France, for a hearing in a climate change case against 32 countries, on September 27th, 2023.  | Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP via Getty Images

A groundbreaking climate hearing went down today in the European Court of Human Rights. The youngest plaintiff in the case is 11 years old; the oldest is 24. They all survived wildfires that raged through Portugal in 2017. And they’ve filed suit against 33 governments in Europe, saying their planet-heating pollution violates their human rights.

The case, Duarte Agostinho and Others v. Portugal and 32 Other States, was brought by a group of six young people from Portugal in 2020. If successful, they could get a legally binding decision that pushes countries — including the 27 EU member states — to act faster on climate change.

“As in many other places young people are leading the way and demonstrating that there are legal avenues through…

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