The European Court of Human Rights is poised to rule on an unprecedented climate change case brought by six young people against more than 30 states including the UK, Germany, and Spain.

The judgment, due to be handed down next Tuesday, could mean that 31 states will be required to increase their climate actions to reduce carbon emissions.

Duarte Agostinho and others v Portugal and 31 other states was heard before 22 judges in the Grand Chamber in Strasbourg in September last year. The six Portuguese applicants, aged between 11 and 24, dropped their case against Ukraine. Russia did not take part in proceedings.

The applicants argued that the countries are failing to comply with their positive obligations under Article 2 (right to life) and Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights. They also raised issues under Article 3 (prohibition of ill-treatment) of the convention and a violation of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination).

The case has been described as making ‘legal history as the first climate change case ever filed with the ECtHR’.

Judgments in two other climate cases – one brought by the Association of Senior Women for Climate Protection (KlimaSeniorinnen) against Switzerland and the other brought by French MEP Damien Carême against France – which were heard in March last year will be handed down at the same time. Duarte Agostinho is the largest of the three.

The applicants in Duarte Agostinho, who are not seeking financial compensation, lodged their case following wildfires in Portugal in 2017.

The countries involved are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK.

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