“Four Portuguese children and two teenagers have filed an unprecedented climate change case before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg,” the Global Legal Action Network, an international non-profit organisation, said in a statement.

According to the same source, the young people ask the court to hold 33 countries, including Portugal, responsible for driving the climate crisis.

“The process, which is presented with the support of GLAN, focuses on the growing threat that climate change poses to their lives and to their physical and psychological well-being. If successful, the 33 countries would be legally bound, not only to increase emission cuts, but also to combat international contributions to climate change, including those of their multinationals,” argues the organisation.

The presentation of the process comes after Portugal recorded the hottest July in ninety years.

“An expert report prepared by Climate Analytics for the process describes Portugal as a climate change ‘hotspot’ that is destined to withstand increasingly deadly extreme heat conditions,” argue the case’s advocates.

Four of the young people live in Leiria, one of the regions most affected by the forest fires that “killed more than 120 people in 2017,” they say. The other two applicants live in Lisbon where, during the August 2018 heat wave, a new record temperature of 44 degrees was established.

In the complaint, they allege that the governments concerned are categorically not decreeing deep and urgent cuts in polluting emissions, “necessary to safeguard the future” of the young applicants.

The countries targeted are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Turkey and Ukraine.

GLAN defines itself as an organisation that works with the objective of taking innovative legal action across borders to confront powerful actors involved in human rights violations and recurring injustices, working with affected communities. It has offices in the United Kingdom and Ireland.