Keywords: access to justice; Art. 263 TFEU; climate change litigation, 1998 Aarhus Convention; public participation; Court of Justice of the European Union.
This article discusses the recent decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Carvalho and others v. Parliament and Council and seeks to analyse what the outcome of this case reveals about barriers to climate litigation, and public interest environmental suits in general, in the EU legal order. In response to this application for annulment under art. 263 TFEU, the Court held that the far-reaching nature of the effects of climate change exclude that they may give rise to an ‘individual concern’ such that neither individuals nor environmental NGOs have standing to challenge whether EU climate legislation sufficiently protects fundamental rights threatened by climate change. This outcome renews questions about whether the EU legal order provides adequate and effective access to justice in environmental matters, and what reforms may be needed to bring the EU into compliance with its duty to provide effective access to justice in accordance with art. 9 of the 1998 Aarhus Convention. Examining these issues and placing this case within the climate justice movement, this work considers possible reforms to bring the EU into compliance with the Aarhus Convention, and what the outcome in Carvalho and others may mean for future climate litigation before EU courts.