Climate change – A people’s case

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

Saami people at the Stockholm Pride Parade at Hornsgatan, August 2, 2014, Sweden. [Shutterstock]

A Saami reindeer herder in Sweden’s Arctic Circle and a livestock farmer in the Romanian Carpathians are both living proof that climate change is impacting Europe’s water resources and endangering our fundamental rights, write a cross-party group of MEPs.

This opinion article is co-authored by several Members of the European Parliament (full list at the bottom). 

On 7 March, we got together with the plaintiffs of the People’s Climate Case: European citizens whose lives, families, livelihoods and fundamental rights are endangered due to the consequences of climate change.

Petru Vlad, coming from the Romanian Carpathians is living proof of how climate change is impacting our water resources. He is at the risk of losing his family farm, livestock and livelihood as a traditional herder due to increasing temperatures, droughts and lack of water in the region.

Sanna Vannar is a young Saami reindeer herder from the Arctic Circle in Sweden. Everything that surrounds her is changing: wildfires hitting the Saami grazelands, reindeer dying due to a lack of food, and suicide rates among Saami youth increasing due to emotional stress created by the uncertainty of climate conditions. Even their language is affected by climate change: already hundreds of Saami words describing different types of snow and rain are no longer used.

They are only some of the Europeans suffering from merely 1°C temperature increase happening already today. These citizens are asking us, as decision makers, to protect them and their fundamental rights to life, health, occupation and property. If we do not address climate change urgently, the impacts they and many others feel will only get worse.

We, MEPs from different political groups and countries, feel the moral responsibility to stand together with our citizens and demand much more ambitious and urgent climate action.

We believe that better climate policies are necessary for a prosperous and healthy Europe. Therefore, we call on the EU to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions well before mid-century. This is possible and requires a substantial increase of the EU’s 2030 climate target as demanded by the plaintiffs.

It is time to listen to climate scientists whose landmark IPCC Special Report on Warming of 1.5°C rang the alarm bells by making it clear that we have only 12 years to act, if we are serious with implementing the historic Paris Agreement.

It is time to listen to the people across Europe that put their trust in our legal system and are taking their governments and the EU to court for better climate policies.

It is time to hear the voices of young people taking the streets every week to remind us that their future is at stake.

As lawmakers, it is our duty to answer the call from our citizens. The European elections are approaching and the upcoming Parliament will shape our future for the next five years. Ramping up climate ambition in the next Parliament is necessary to show our citizens that we, as their representatives, support their call for a better future and stand together with them to make this happen.



  • Sirpa Pietikäinen, Member of the European Parliament, Group of the European People’s Party
  • Jo Leinen, Member of the European Parliament, Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament
  • Bas Eickhout, Member of the European Parliament, Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance
  • Lynn Boylan, Member of the European Parliament, Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left

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