The case against the agreements on fossil fuels at the European Court of Human Rights

The case against the agreements on fossil fuels at the European Court of Human Rights

Five people between the ages of 17 and 31 have filed a lawsuit in the European Court of Human Rights, to force European governments to withdraw from the Energy Charter, a treaty that protects energy companies active in the fossil fuel sector . The five climate activists come from different regions of Europe, affected in recent years by fires, floods or hurricanes.

The Energy Charter (Tce) is an agreement that allows fossil fuel companies to bring governments go to court in case their environmental protection policies decrease their profits. For example, thanks to this agreement, the German energy company Rwe is suing the Netherlands for its decarbonisation plans, demanding a compensation of 1.4 billion euros. For the same mechanism, the British mining company Rockhopper exploration has sued the Italian government for banning new drilling near the coast.

This is the first time that the European Court of Human Rights has been questioned on the treaty, which includes about 55 countries, including European states, the United Kingdom and Japan, as a whistleblower revealed to the Guardian. Indeed, thanks to the Tce, all fossil fuel companies can sue governments for early shutdown or reduction in production of coal, oil or gas plants.

The lawsuit is arrived just as 76 climate experts sent an open letter to European leaders, in which they say how continuing to protect fossil fuel companies under the rules of the TCE would effectively prevent the closure of the most polluting plants and remove vast resources needed to support the transition ecological towards clean energies.

"In both cases, the climate neutrality objective of the Union and the European Green deal will be jeopardized", reads the letter, reported by the Guardian, asking the current French presidency of the Union to quickly get member countries out of the treaty. In the next few days, the members of the TCe will meet to negotiate an update of the treaty, signed in 1994.

The European Commission has proposed a gradual process of eliminating the protections of the TCC, to arrive at its cancellation by 2040 However, according to activists and experts, the deadline indicated by the commission would be too far away to have any real effect and the proposed reductions would be too light. "The options discussed are too weak to make the ECT compatible with the Paris Agreement or Union law," Cornelia Maarfield, Climate Action Network Europe's trade and investment policy coordinator told The Guardian.

Meanwhile, the governments of France, Germany, Poland and Spain have already commissioned to study how the Union could withdraw from the TCE, as reported by Euractiv. However, the leaders of the TCE continue to argue that the agreement does not support the fossil fuel sector, but protects the rule of law of investors. A thesis contested by activists, for whom a withdrawal clause would be included within the TCE, therefore the exit from the treaty would be absolutely legal and even simple.

"It is not possible that the fuel industry fossils is even more protected than our human rights, "Julia, a 17-year-old German student, who joined the group of plaintiffs after losing her home following flooding in the Ahr region, told the Guardian. last July, which caused the deaths of 222 people.

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