Court verdict: Czech government must urgently meet its climate commitments

The Municipal Court in Prague today upheld the Czech Climate Litigation lawsuit in a landmark decision and ordered the state to urgently take the necessary measures to slow climate change in accordance with its obligations under European and international law. The courts in the Czech Republic have done so for the first time in history.

The evidence showed that the Czech Republic’s Climate Protection Policy, the government’s strategy determining the Czech Republic’s pace of greenhouse gas emission reductions, is not sufficient in terms of contribution of the Czech Republic to goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. If every country behaved in this way, crossing tipping points in the Earth’s climate system would become inevitable, which would have a major negative impact on the ecosystem as a whole and on the international community, which includes the people of the Czech Republic.

The plaintiffs convinced the court that the measures taken by the state so far are not sufficient to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990. State authorities are obliged to have a plan of precise and complete measures towards this goal, which is currently not the case. According to the court, the defendants have not provided legitimate reasons for their inaction. The court concluded that the objective of the Paris Agreement to keep the global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius is not legally binding, however the aforementioned national contribution is, and cannot be continually avoided. Avoiding fulfillment of the climate goals would threaten the plaintiffs’ constitutionally guaranteed rights. The Court expressly finds that if the state had fulfilled its climate obligations, there would still be climate impacts, however they would be smaller. It also stated that the Czech Republic cannot absolve itself of its climate responsibility by reference to its relatively small contribution to global climate change.

The plaintiffs were the Czech Climate Litigation – a civil association of over 260 citizens, joined by the municipality of Svatý Jan pod Skalou, which is struggling with the effects of ongoing climate change, and other plaintiffs, including foresters and farmers. The plaintiff group was represented in the proceedings by Frank Bold lawyers.