Press Release | 13 May 2017

Climate suit against German utility RWE: Higher District Court will hear appeal on 13 November

Parallel to the political negotiations at the UN Climate Summit in Bonn, the legalities of climate change and its consequences will be on the agenda in Hamm. The Peruvian mountain guide Saúl Luciano Lliuya is taking his suit against RWE to the court of second instance.

Bonn/Hamm (13 May 2017). 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 – in which the chain of evidence will finally be examined: Is the flood hazard a consequence of global climate change and therefore of the defendant’s emissions? This is what we will demonstrate.”

Saúl Luciano Lliuya adds, “I am glad that we are getting another chance to plead our cause in court. We want to show why RWE shares responsibility for the threats that we live under in Huaraz. According to scientific studies, the lake overlooking my hometown is growing relentlessly because of the accelerated glacial meltdown – and those who are contributing to the problem with their emissions want nothing to do with our plight? It doesn’t take a legal scholar to see that this is unjust.”

Klaus Milke, chairman of the environment and development organization Germanwatch, explains, “This case will set a precedent. Saúl Luciano aims to achieve that RWE covers a share of the costs for preventative measures to be taken at the glacial lake overlooking the Andean town of Huaraz, in proportion to its contribution to causing climate change. These proceedings have major implications for many more people threatened by climate change around the globe.” The part of town in which Luciano Lliuya and his family live is acutely threatened by flooding due to the accelerated glacial meltdown caused by global warming. If a portion of the melting glacier were to break off into the lake below, this could lead to a devastating flood wave, which studies say would directly impact 50,000 people. Even so, RWE is denying the claim.

Germanwatch is supporting and advising Luciano Lliuya in his efforts. The foundation “Stiftung Zukunftsfähigkeit” is covering the claimant’s legal and court expenses in this precedent-setting case and, to that end, is calling for donations.