For four local climate activists, the right to clean energy is clearly a fundamental right – just like freedom of speech or the right to private property. Therefore, according to him, the state should be responsible for this. That’s why four Austrians are now going to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), together with environmental protection organization Global 2000 and lawyer Reinhard Schanda. They see their rights at risk due to the lack of climate protection measures. They had previously been unsuccessful in a climate lawsuit at the Constitutional Court (VFGH).
Plaintiffs insist on switching to climate-friendly energy. Climate activists’ hope: There will be a legally binding end date for fossil fuel use, extended to 2040: “We want to enforce our right to clean energy in court because politicians are not acting enough. All analyzes show that with current climate policy we will fall far short of the targets,” said Johannes Wahlmüller, Global 2000 climate and energy spokesperson.
However, for activists, this clean energy does not include nuclear energy, as the NGO Global 2000 has been fighting against it for more than 40 years, that is, from the very first hour of its existence. The Global 2000 homepage says, “Nuclear energy makes you sick.”
The four plaintiffs – a pensioner, a professional worker, a mayor and an organic farmer – argue that political inaction on climate protection violates their human right to life. The Constitutional Court rejected this application in July.
The argument of the plaintiffs is not credible. Therefore continued use of fossil fuels would be life threatening. Of all people, the new chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently vigorously rejected such warnings about climate apocalypse. Professor Jim Scaia pointed out that humanity can withstand a 1.5 degree increase in temperature and therefore will not perish – eXpress reported.
Furthermore, fundamental rights are primarily defensive rights against the state. Therefore rights – such as freedom of expression, private life and property – must always be respected and protected. It sets a limit to the state’s sphere of influence. It is quite the opposite with climate protectors: they impose more and more obligations on the state, which means that its area of responsibility is constantly expanding.