Dear EU Presidents and Heads of State and Government,
We are writing to you on behalf of all Europeans impacted by climate change. We are farmers, shepherds, foresters, hotel and restaurant owners and students from Sweden, Portugal, France, Italy, Germany and Romania. The one thing that brings us together is our vulnerability to climate change.
Armando lost his forested land in the Portuguese wildfires in 2017. He used to be a forest manager, but he isn’t any more after 20 years of dedicating his life to protecting forests.
Alfredo manages a farmers cooperative and, together with 35 families who work on the farm, he might need to abandon his farm soon as their traditional farming system is unable to adapt to the current level of temperature increase and drought.
Sanna is a 23 years old Saami reindeer herder from Sweden and the president of the Saami Youth Association Sáminuorra. Due to unforeseen changes in the climate, her community can no longer rely on traditional indigenous knowledge and practices. The increased uncertainty caused by climate change already has detrimental effects for the psychological wellbeing of Saami youth.
A lavender farmer, Maurice has lost 44% of his revenue from the lavender farming business in the last 6 years due to consecutive droughts in the south of France.
Maike and Michael have worked for 20 years to build a hotel and restaurant business from scratch in their island Langeoog, in Germany and are now facing to lose everything they have due to sea level rise in the North Sea.
Petru is a farmer from the Romanian Carpatian Mountains and witnessing how climate change is impacting the water resources in his region. He faces a serious risk of losing his family farm due to droughts and lack of water in the region.
Ildebrando’s family has been in the beekeeping business in Portugal for generations. The changes in the flowering season and unusual warm weather have started to destroy the hives. Progressively, his family lost 60% of their production.
Giorgio’s family manages a small bed & breakfast hotel in the Italian Alps, which is fully dependent on the famous ice climbing opportunities in the region. The changes in temperature are making the ice climbing dangerous which severely affects the revenues of the families in the region.
On May 2018, together with our children and the Saami Youth Association from Sweden, we took the EU to court for the inadequacy of the European Union’s 2030 climate target. We claim that the EU’s existing 2030 climate target – to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40%, as compared to 1990 levels- is inadequate with respect to the real need to prevent dangerous climate change and far from what is needed to protect our fundamental rights of life, health, occupation and property.
Since then, the European Institutions have repeatedly agreed with our claim. The European Parliament has voted two resolutions calling for an increase of the EU’s 2030 climate target from 40% to 55%. The Commission’s long term strategy acknowledged that the EU’s existing climate target is not in line with the objective of the Paris Agreement to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C. These acknowledgements of the low 2030 target prove that we are right in asking for higher climate targets. Better climate policies are the sole way to protect our rights and create a better future for all of us.
On 9 May, you will get together with all European Heads of State and Government to discuss the Future of Europe.
We call upon you and all Heads of State and Government to put climate action and your commitment to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C at the heart of this debate. In similar letters addressed to our Heads of State and Government, we also remind them their responsibility of “duty of care” and “protecting citizens”.
As European citizens, our future depends on the Future of Europe. Today, we need you to hear us and hundreds of thousands of young people marching in the streets to ask the EU to do its utmost to tackle today’s climate crisis.
We look forward to see your strong statement to tackle climate change in the outcomes of the Future of Europe Summit.
Signatories of the letter – Plaintiffs of the People’s Climate Case:
Sanna Vannar, president of Sáminuorra, Sweden (on behalf of the Saami youth)
Maurice and Renaud Feschet, farmers, France
Maike and Michael Recktenwald, hotel and restaurant owners, Germany
Vlad Petru, farmer and shepherd, Romania
Armando Carvalho, forest owner, Portugal
Alfredo Sendim, farmer, Portugal
Ildebrando Conceição, beekeeper, Portugal
Joaquim Caixeiro, farmer, Portugal
Giorgio Elter, farmer and hotel owner, Italy