Alfredo Sendim’s family owns agricultural land in the south of Portugal. This land has belonged to his family for more than 100 years, where they operate a traditional farming method known in the region from the Middle Ages, which is based on a structure of agroforestry, cork trees, shrubs and pasture in a mixed and revolving system. Today, the Cooperative founded by Alfredo Sendim is linking the land and the families, providing labour and food.

For 20 years, the impacts of climate change have been getting stronger in the region and land use and working conditions are becoming increasingly difficult due to rising temperatures and lack of water. Every year, they are investing more to continue their farming activities on the one hand, while on the other hand, the income from the land continues to decrease. Knowing his land and livestock and seeing the projections of climate change, the plaintiff Sendim says:

“In a climate change scenario beyond 2°C, which is where we are headed with the EU’s existing climate target, there will be a desert on the land where my farm stands today and we will have to move. Even below 2°C, it will be a real challenge simply due to the higher and more extreme temperatures in the summer, which are a real death threat to our livestock.”

The Cooperative founded by Alfredo Sendim has 35 partners whose lives depend on this land. The Caixeiro family is one of the families who are economically dependent on the work on the farm, and would not be able to sustain a livelihood in the area without the Cooperative.

Scientists point to the strong trend towards increasing temperatures in Portugal and underline that this trend is associated with climate change. The Cooperative has already put in place an adaptation project for the land but it is not enough to ensure a “safe future” for them. They will not be able to adapt if the climate impacts get worse. The father of the Caixeiro family, Joaquim Caixeiro, explains these impacts:

“We live in a small rural village and our way of life is being changed in a more or less direct way, leading in some cases to the abandonment of our livelihoods and the search for other types of employment in other regions. Climate change directly affects my job and the life of my family by making our activity less competitive compared to similar activities that follow the conventional agricultural method. What motivates me to participate in this legal action is fear about the future, mine and that of my daughters.”

They are afraid for the future of their children, just like anyone facing the possibility of leaving their land. But at the same time they are the vanguards in the fight for a safe future and the wellbeing of all of us. They will alert the EU courts to the fact that climate protection is no longer a political or purely diplomatic issue; it’s also a problem that is already affecting their lives and putting their children’s future at risk.

Please contact ZERO to reach out to the families.