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22 Sep 2022

Waseem Mohamed, Guardian (UK)

Russia: Activists file first climate change lawsuit against government

"First climate lawsuit against Russian government launched over emissions", 13 Sep 2022

The first-ever climate lawsuit in Russia has been filed by a group of activists demanding that the government take stronger action over the climate crisis.

The group wants the Russian authorities to take measures that will reduce the country’s greenhouse emissions, in line with targets of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5C agreed under the 2015 Paris climate accords...

Mark Chernaik of the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide... warns of the devastating consequences that Russia faces due to climate change, ranging from severe health impacts due to recent heatwaves and outbreaks of vector-borne diseases, to increased exposure to anthrax disease and infrastructure damage due to melting permafrost.

By taking the government to Russia’s supreme court, the group hopes it will “save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people”.

Grigory Vaypan, the spokesperson for the group’s legal team, said: “The Russian government’s approach to climate change is irresponsible and contrary to its international law obligations.”

For Vaypan, the case represents the need for “the court to recognise that these [climate] targets are manifestly insufficient to fulfil Russia’s obligation to mitigate climate change, and order the government to set new, Paris-compliant targets.”

The group says Russia’s insufficient measures on climate change are “violating the Russian constitution and the European convention on human rights”. Russia will withdraw from the ECHR on Friday 16 September, which means the climate lawsuit could be among the last cases in the country that the ECHR could issue a binding agreement on, if it is taken to the European courts.

Activists from several climate action groups in Russia joined forces to file the court case against the government...

The group filing the court case says it faces “considerable risks”, in light of recent government crackdowns on civil and opposition movements in Russia, especially since the invasion of Ukraine. Many of the climate activists in the country are also anti-war activists, who worry that they are already “paying a heavy price” for speaking out...

The Russian government has been contacted for comment.