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Families Sue European Union to Take More Action on Climate Change

A group of 10 families is taking the European Union to court in an attempt to get its member states to take more drastic action on climate change.

Last week, families from Portugal, Germany, France, Italy, Romania, Kenya, and Fiji filed a legal action in the E.U.'s second-highest court, claiming direct financial and personal losses from climate change due to emissions from E.U. territory.

As a party to the Paris Agreement, the E.U. has already pledged to reduce emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels over the next 12 years. But the plaintiffs are arguing that that is not enough to keep temperature increases below two degrees Celsius and stave off the worst effects of climate change.

"Year by year, the temperatures are increasing. There is no longer enough water for our cattle and sheep. I have to take my cattle from 700 meter altitude to 1400 meter for decent grass to graze, but especially for water. But I cannot go any further up with our herds, because above 2000 meter there is only the sky," Petru Vlad, the father of a plaintiff from Romania, said in a statement. "Some say it is divine punishment, others blame it on pollution. However, what I can tell you, as a simple peasant with no higher education, is that it is not my fault and that needs to be fixed. And this is why I demand action: not money, but protection."

Rather than seeking financial compensation, the plaintiffs are asking the court to order the E.U. to implement regulations to achieve its current targets, and then set a more ambitious target more in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The international accord already calls on parties to increase the ambition of its climate targets over time, but the agreement is not legally binding.