NGOs take Romania to court in the country’s first climate lawsuit
Declic – one of Romania’s most important NGOs – has filed the country’s first ever climate lawsuit for the government’s failure to take appropriate measures to reduce and mitigate the foreseeable risks posed by the climate crisis. Climate activists from Declic also asked the court to issue Romanian Prime Minister Nicoale Ciucă and the Ministers of Environment and Energy with fines for every day of inaction. The case alleges that Romanian officials have breached their legal duties to adopt and implement an energy transition strategy that aligns with the Paris Agreement, keeping the global average temperature below a 1.5°C increase.
6 April 2023
On 10 April, the initial hearing for the trial will take place in the Cluj Court of Appeal. Two additional NGOs – Bankwatch Romania and 2Celsius – have joined Declic in support of the lawsuit.
Roxana Pencea Brădățan, Declic’s campaign coordinator, says: ‘We are filing a lawsuit because Romanian politicians have simply made promises for years now. They sign international treaties, attend climate change conventions and then return to Romania with no plans to go ahead. It’s about our future and our children’s future. As a result, we demand justice in court. To make them care, we demand that representatives of the Romanian state be fined for inaction: a 20 per cent pay cut for each day they fail to act.’
The plaintiffs seek an order from the court that requires the authorities to take all necessary actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55 per cent by 2030 in comparison with 1990 levels, and to attain climate neutrality by 2050. In addition, they demand that the Romanian Government increases the share of renewable energy in final energy consumption to 45 per cent and improves energy efficiency by 13 per cent by 2030.
This historic lawsuit is part of a global litigation movement that aims to hold governments accountable for their legal responsibilities. Previously, civil society organisations have won court cases against their respective governments in France, the Netherlands and Ireland, compelling their nations to implement effective climate-neutral policies. In addition, the UK’s High Court declared in 2022 that the government’s Net Zero Strategy violated the Climate Change Act. The British government was required to revise its climate plan to include a quantifiable assessment of how its policies would achieve climate targets.
Roxana Mândruţiu, coordinating lawyer from law firm Revnic, Cristian and Associates, the legal team that drafted the action, says: ‘The European Climate Law was adopted at the EU level in June 2021. Almost two years have passed and Romania still doesn’t have a climate law, much less one that matches European greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. We believe that the current objectives are insufficient and that they violate the legal obligations assumed under the Constitution, the Paris Agreement and the European Climate Law.’
Ioana Ciuta, president of Bankwatch Romania, says: ‘The time has come to reshape the question of responsibility for the climate crisis. Romania ranks third from bottom in the EU when it comes to installed capacity of solar and wind per capita. Practically no new capacity was installed between 2016 and 2021, and the CO2 intensity of its economy is way above the EU average. Instead of turning towards sustainable solutions, the Romanian Government has offered numerous blank cheques to the biggest polluters, always putting individual responsibility above the real responsibility of the polluters – many of whom are state-owned companies. We are hopeful that this case will set the record straight.’
Raul Cazan, president of 2Celsius, says: ‘Romanian transportation has been reduced to an enormous swarm of gas-guzzlers, whilst smart solutions for public transport, electrified railways and active mobility have been lost in a smog of uninspired and carbon-intensive policies. Moreover, in recent decades, Romania has become a cemetery for second-hand vehicles whose imports have been utterly encouraged by fiscal policies and governmental programmes. As a result, Romania’s transport emissions are growing in contrast with other sectors of the economy. This representative action lawsuit is civil society’s last resort, evidence that our advocacy for sensible climate action has hit the wall of irresponsible policymaking.’
Declic: Roxana Pencea Brădățan, +40 723 024 300, email@example.com
Revnic, Cristian & Associates: Roxana Mândruţiu, +40 722 740 113, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bankwatch Romania: Ioana Ciută, +40 724 020 281, email@example.com
2Celsius: Raul Cazan, +40 731 001 248, firstname.lastname@example.org
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