29. April 2024 | NEWSFLASH Umweltrecht

NEWSFLASH English Summary 04/24

European Court of Human Rights strengthens environmental organizations as plaintiffs in climate lawsuits

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) recently issued significant rulings on climate law-suits, granting standing to a Swiss environmental association while rejecting claims from Portuguese youths and a French individual. The ECtHR emphasized the role of environmental organizations in advocating for members affected by climate change. The Swiss association, KlimaSeniorinnen, argued that elderly women were disproportionately impacted by climate change, specifically rising temperatures. The ECtHR recognized the association's standing to sue, citing climate change as a global concern justifying organizational advocacy. The ECtHR also affirmed a right to protection against severe climate impacts under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and stressed the importance of public participation in climate laws. These rulings provide guidance for future climate litigation, underscoring the significance of environmental organizations while emphasizing the complementary roles of courts and policymakers in addressing climate challenges.

Lower Austria issues another Otter regulation and disregards VwGH ruling in the process

Regarding the Lower Austrian government's Otter regulation (Otter removal regulation) from 2019 the VwGH (administrative court) decision Ra 2021/10/0162 stresses the importance of involving recognised environmental organizations in administrative processes and ensuring effective legal protection. Despite this, the Lower Austrian government issued a new Otter Regulation without providing public participation for recognised environmental organisations, as required by the Aarhus Convention, violating legal standards. In 2020 Ökobüro and WWF Austria submitted an appli-cation for a review of the 2019 Otter Regulation. The aforementioned decision of the VwGH has resulted in the Lower Austrian provincial government having to decide on the content of this application. Although the decision of the Administrative Court should be considered immediately, the Lower Austrian provincial government has not yet dealt with the content of the application. This ongoing disregard for the VwGH decision perpetuates legal violations and undermines the rule of law.