More than 600 young people in Sweden, including climate activist Greta Thunberg, on Friday filed a lawsuit against the Swedish state accusing it of climate inaction, a first in the country.
This comes after a high-profile case in the Netherlands, where the country’s highest court ruled in 2019 that the government had a legal obligation to take action on global warming.
“The Swedish state fails to meet the constitutional requirement to promote sustainable development leading to a good environment for present and future generations,” the group said.
In an interview with the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, Great Thunberg said she believes climate laws should be tightened.
“We don’t have laws that provide long-term protection from the consequences of climate and environmental crises, but we need to use the methods at our disposal and do everything we can,” she said.
“There has never been such a large-scale case in the Swedish legal system”, Ida Edling, a member of the organisation behind the lawsuit, Aurora, told the news agency.
The lawsuit, symbolically submitted to the Stockholm district court during a protest in the city on Friday, had previously been filed electronically to another Stockholm court, Aurora said.
The legal action, which has been in the works for two years, comes as Sweden’s new right-wing government faces mounting criticism over lacklustre climate goals.
The cabinet, which assumed power following elections in September, has announced plans to scrap the environment ministry altogether. Its 2023 budget has been criticized for including measures that are set to increase emissions from the transport sector.
In 2017, Sweden adopted a climate law that requires the government to work to reduce emissions of planet-warming gases toward a net-zero target set for 2045.
Cutting greenhouse gas emissions is key to meeting the 2015 Paris Agreement target of keeping global warming below 2C by the end of the century.
However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February triggered a scramble for energy that’s set back efforts and this year’s UN-sponsored climate talks in Egypt failed to step up ambitions.