A Sud et al. v. Italy
Jurisdiction: Civil Court of Rome
Side A: A Sud and 200 plaintiffs
Side B: Italy
Core objectives: Whether the Italian government is violating fundamental rights through its inaction on the climate emergency
On June 5, 2021, environmental justice NGO A Sud and more than 200 plaintiffs filed suit alleging that the Italian government, by failing to take actions necessary to meet Paris Agreement temperature targets, is violating fundamental rights, including the right to a stable and safe climate. The action, part of a campaign called Giudizio Universale (The Last Judgment), seeks a declaration that the government's inaction is contributing to the climate emergency and a court order to reduce emissions 92% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. According to an executive summary of the claim released by the plaintiffs, the government's climate obligations stem from the Paris Agreement, EU regulations, and IPCC reports. The human right to a stable and safe climate is based on guarantees in Article 6 of the Treaty of the European Union (guarantee of fundamental rights), and Articles 2 (right to life) and 8 (right to privacy) of the European Convention on Human Rights, among others. These rights violations give rise to non-contractual liability of the Italian government under Article 2043 of the Italian Civil Code.
On December 14, 2021, the first hearing was held before the Civil Court of Rome in the form of written notes (due to Covid-19 emergency). In its reply, the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, represented by the “Avvocatura Generale dello Stato” (state lawyers), requested the Court to declare the complaint inadmissible and, in any case, to dismiss the applicants’ claims on the merits. On the matter of fact, the reply describes in depth the State’s policies and endeavors on climate change. On the matter of law, the reply deals with: (i) the absence of jurisdiction of the civil judge over activities pertaining to the legislative and executive powers of the State; (ii) the lack of standing rights of the applicants; (iii) the impossibility of placing an individual responsibility on the Italian State for climate change and its impact.
The applicants sent their rebuttal notes on January 14, 2022. The next hearing is scheduled for June 21, 2022.