Legal action against a German energy company launched by a farmer living in the Peruvian Andean mountains firm is “admissible” according to a German court of appeal, despite the company not having any plant in the country. This is a major step towards a “global climate justice.”
Thurday November 30th, the Hamm Court of appeal (Germany) has accepted to investigate a complaint by a Peruvian farmer against the major energy producer RWE. Saul Luciano Lliuya lives in Huarizo, a small town in the Andean mountains, 400 km (250 mile) north of Lima. He filed a lawsuit against Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk Aktiengesellschaft (RWE), event though the German group is not established in Peru.
The complainant wants the German firm – one of the biggest energy producers in the word – to pay for the consequences of global warming – yeah, that’s right! According to him, RWE is legally responsible as it has one of the biggest greenhouse gas footprint in the world – it is the first carbon dioxide emitter in the Europe. He therefore wants the company to pay damages for the repercussions of global warming in his region.
The city of Huarizo is under threat of massive floods because of the fast melting of the surrounding glaciers. As a result, water levels of the lake Palcacochale are getting dangerously high. Saul Luciano Lliuya wants RWE to pay for part of the security works undertaken to prevent the city from being submerged. He also asks the firm to pay him back the 6.300 euros he has to spend to protect his house against the rising waters.
The German court has accepted to look into this complaint. It has ordered for a series of expert assessment to be made regarding RWE’s greenhouse gas emissions. The company has therefore not been condemned to pay quite yet. However, this judgement has opened the door to complaints against massive greenhouse gas emitters such as RWE and to a right to compensation for the victims of such pollution. The complainants must still prove a link between the polluter’s activity and the damage – which M Lliuya has yet to do.
“Accepting to debate such a case is unheard of in legal history”, says Roda Verheyen, Saul Luciano Lliuya’s lawyer. RWE, however claims this complaint “lacks legal ground” as “one cannot blame a specific emitter for the global consequences of climate change.” “Event those who acted lawfully are responsible for any damage they cause”, the court replied.
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