For the first time, a company responsible for climate change faces legal charges in Europe: Today, the Peruvian farmer and mountain guide Saúl Luciano Lliuya is filing a lawsuit against the German utility RWE at the Regional Court in Essen, Germany. The reason: The energy company’s immense emissions threaten his family, his property as well as a large part of his home city of Huaraz.
The "Case of Huaraz" at a glance
24.11.2015: Saúl Luciano Lliuya files the lawsuit, which is classified by the District Court Essen as "a legal matter with fundamental significance".
June 2016: In its statement of defence, RWE disputes its own responsibility for climate change induced damage in the Andes and denies that Huaraz even faces a risk of flooding.
24.11.2016: The first oral hearing takes place amid great national and international interest – the decision was adjourned.
15.12.2016: The District Court Essen dismisses the civil lawsuit against RWE.
26.01.2017: Saúl Luciano Lliuya files an appeal before the Higher Regional Court Hamm against the negative ruling of the Regional Court Essen.
13.11.2017: The appeal at the Higher District Court Hamm is scheduled as an oral hearing.
30.11.2017: The Higher Regional Court Hamm announces its decision to enter into the evidentiary stage thereby writing legal history.
25.02.2018 and 14.03.2018: The Higher Regional Court of Hamm clearly rejects two statements of objection filed by RWE’s lawyers against the Court’s Order for the Hearing of Evidence and states once again: climate damages can give rise to corporate liability.
Current: Plaintiff and defendant have submitted their proposals for experts to the Higher Regional Court of Hamm and are now waiting for a decision by the Court so that the taking of evidence can finally begin.
The District of Highlands, a Southern Vancouver Island municipality (Canada) sent a "Climate Accountability Letter" to 20 of the world's largest fossil fuel companies – demanding them to pay their fair share of the climate costs suffered by the District. This initiative follows the approach of the climate lawsuit "Saúl Luciano LLiuya against RWE" which is supported by Germanwatch.
To what extent must operators of power plants assume liability for consequences of climate change? This question is at the centre of a lawsuit in which a Peruvian farmer is suing a German energy provider. The plaintiff´s house lies below a glacial lake, the volume of which has increased to a hazardous level in the course of climate change. The power plant operator is requested to partially cover the costs of preventive measures for securing the property of the claimant. The District Court Essen dismissed the case. The decision is appealed. The central legal question is about causality.
The Peruvian farmer and mountain guide Saúl Luciano Lliuya has filed a lawsuit against RWE.
The 5th Civil Chamber of the Higher District Court Hamm (Germany) has scheduled an oral hearing for the appeal of Peruvian mountain guide and small farmer Saúl Luciano Lliuya for 13 November (Monday). The public hearing is set to take approximately two hours. The scheduled date lies in the middle of the two-week UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn (Germany, 6 – 17 Nov.), which will likely attract added international attention to the case. The attorney for the claimant, Dr. Roda Verheyen (Hamburg), is pleased by the Higher District Court’s decision. “I am confident that this initial hearing will now be followed by an evidentiary phase."
Today the mountain guide and small-scale farmer Saúl Luciano Lliuya from Peru filed an appeal against the decision made by the Regional Court Essen (Germany) in his lawsuit against RWE. Together with his attorney Dr. Roda Verheyen (Hamburg), he will continue his efforts before the Higher Regional Court Hamm to compel RWE, as the largest emitter of CO2 in Europe, to contribute to protective measures against the effects of climate change in the Peruvian Andes. These effects threaten major parts of his hometown, Huaraz. The court of first instance had dismissed the “climate suit” in mid-December.
"I am happy to have become active and it overwhelms me how much interest and support I have received in my country and around the world. This gives me the courage and strength to move forward. Climate change affects all countries in the world. Therefore we have to stand up for justice."
Deutsche Welle, 14.03.2018
Video: Farmer in Peru vs. a German utility (4 min.)
Peruvian Farmer Explains His Lawsuit Against Energy Firm
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