Fijian family loses EU climate change case

By: Anish Chand

A Fijian family and nine others have lost a landmark climate change court case in European Union’s highest court.

The European Court of Justice has ruled that individuals cannot sue the EU over inaction in the climate crisis.

The families claimed that the bloc’s inaction on climate change was harming their homes and livelihoods.

International media dubbed this as the People’s Climate Case.

In their ruling on the ECJ’s website, the judges acknowledged that ‘every individual is likely to be affected one way or another by climate change’.
But it decided that this did not provide grounds for suing the EU, which has already committed to reduce emissions.

According to the group’s application to the EU Court of Justice, the Fiji plaintiffs are ‘the Qaloibau family’ from Naqaravatu village, located on Natewa Bay, Vanua Levu.

They are listed as Petero Qaloibau, Melania Cironiceva, Katarina Dimoto, Petero Qaloibau Jnr and Elisabeta Tokalau.

“Coral bleaching caused by higher water temperatures has become more frequent and devastating to the coral reefs. This has in turn affected the availability of habitat for fish, leading to depletion of fish stocks relied on by the community. It has also had a major negative effect on tourism, which was a key source of livelihood,” they had stated in court affidavits.

Lawyers in the People’s Climate Case say they plan to appeal within the next two months, but cautioned that since the case was dismissed on procedural grounds, no new evidence could be submitted.

Since the lawsuit was launched, 10 EU member states including France and Spain have called on leaders to agree to net zero emissions by 2050.