Greenpeace targets Spain with climate change lawsuit

The three groups – Greenpeace, Ecologists in Action and international charity Oxfam – allege Spain is not doing enough to meet its climate objectives and respect the landmark Paris climate deal, which aims to cap the rise in temperature globally to "well below" two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. [Eneas De Troya / Flickr]

Three environmental groups including Greenpeace said Tuesday (15 September) they have launched a lawsuit against the Spanish government, accusing it of taking insufficient action to tackle climate change.

It comes after similar action was launched by green groups elsewhere in Europe including France, Germany and the Netherlands, where the Dutch government lost a landmark case on cutting greenhouse gas emissions in 2018.

“There is only one path to avoid devastating climate change: reducing CO2 emissions drastically and quickly and speeding up the ecological transition,” the president of the Spanish branch of Greenpeace, Mario Rodriguez, said in a joint statement from the three groups.

The lawsuit, filed at Spain’s Supreme Court, seeks a judicial order requiring the government to “increase its climate ambition” to comply with its international environmental commitments.

The three groups – Greenpeace, Ecologists in Action and international charity Oxfam – allege Spain is not doing enough to meet its climate objectives and respect the landmark Paris climate deal, which aims to cap the rise in temperature globally to “well below” two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

This is the first ever climate lawsuit against the Spanish government, the statement added.

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Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has attempted to paint himself as a leader in fighting climate change since he came to power in June 2018.

His government has declared a “climate emergency” and it aims for 70% of the nation’s power to come from renewables by 2030 on the way to a 100% clean electricity system by 2050.

That is in line with the European Union’s ambition to be carbon neutral by 2050 but environmentalists say progress has been too slow.

A group of NGOs including Greenpeace and Oxfam launched a similar lawsuit against the French state in December 2018.

In October of that year the Dutch government lost an appeal against a ruling which ordered it to slash greenhouse gases by at least 25 percent by 2020.

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Environmental rights group Urgenda fought the successful case on behalf of some 900 Dutch citizens who accused the Netherlands of doing too little to prevent dangerous climate change.

Earth’s average surface temperature has gone up by one degree Celsius since the 19th century, enough to increase the intensity of droughts, heat waves and tropical cyclones.

Burning fossil fuels has been by far the main driver of rising temperatures, with concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere now at their highest levels in around three million years.

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