Austrian files climate lawsuit against government

VIENNA (AFP) – An Austrian multiple sclerosis sufferer sued his government in the European rights court for failing to protect the climate, saying global warming has worsened his condition, an activist group said yesterday.

The man, whose name was only given as Mex M, suffers from a temperature-dependent form of multiple sclerosis, said the Austrian branch of the Fridays For Future movement initiated by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

“From 25 degrees Celsius I sit in a wheelchair. That means: I’m already affected by the climate crisis and in the future even more so,” the 40-year-old energy consultant said.

“A success would enable me to demand effective climate measures and to claim this in court.”

The suit was filed at the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Friday. “The climate law is weak and does not give you the opportunity to do anything against it,” his lawyer Michaela Kroemer told AFP. “The state has failed in its duty to act.”

Austria’s Environment Ministry, led by a Green party politician since early last year, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The suit is financed through crowd funding efforts initiated by Fridays For Future, which raised EUR30,000 within weeks.

The man filed his suit in Austria last year, but the constitutional court rejected it on the “issue of standing”, Kroemer said.

Other lawsuits, including by six Portugese accusing dozens of European countries of having failed their commitments in the fight against climate change, have already been filed at the ECHR.