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 "Huaraz Case" 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.
July 2018: Since plaintiff and defendant cannot agree on experts for the taking of evidence, the Higher Regional Court of Hamm announces that it will select them itself.
September 2018: The experts selected by the Higher Regional Court of Hamm accept their appointment. They will provide an opinion on the question of wether or not there is a serious threat of impairment to the plaintiff‘s property. If this question is answered positively, there will be taking of evidence with regards to the defendant‘s part of responsibility for this impairment due to RWE‘s CO₂ emissions.
2019: On the recommendation of the experts, the Higher Regional Court of Hamm has made a request to the State of Peru to be allowed to inspect the premises that are the subject of the lawsuit. The Court is at present awaiting response from the competent authorities, which can take quite some time to process.
2020: Unfortunately, the taking of evidence in Huaraz will be further delayed due to the Corona-crisis and resulting travel restrictions.
The 5th civil chamber of the Higher District Court Hamm (Germany) wrote legal history today. It gave a clear statement that large emitters like RWE are liable for supporting people in poorer countries affected by climate change. The climate-suit of Saul Luciano Lliuya will therefore enter into the next phase. On 30th November, the court is expected to formally announce its decision to enter into the evidentiary phase. At that point, it will be necessary to provide sufficient evidence in this specific case to prove that RWE must provide a financial contribution as Luciano Lliuya has demanded. The court's argument is of great significance for many people who suffer from climate change impacts.
How can we seek Climate Justice? How can we enforce rights and responsabilities? Find out, get involved.
On November 13th (Monday) the fifth Civil Senate of the Oberlandesgericht (Higher District Court) of Hamm (Germany) will conduct an oral hearing in the appeal of the Peruvian farmer and mountain guide Saúl Luciano Lliuya. In this climate justice lawsuit, the core question is whether the energy corporation RWE may be held partially responsible for protective measures against climate change in the high Andes in Peru. There, the city of Huaraz is threatened by a flood wave from a glacial lake that has increased in volume as a result of climate change. The Landgericht (District Court) Essen rejected the civil law suit that is – so far - unique in Europe. The question is now whether the higher court will enter into the evidentiary phase which would establish a ground-breaking precedence.
This is a transmedia project about individuals, communities and organizations facing the impacts of climate change in the Cordillera Blanca in Peru. Next to the climate lawsuit of Saúl Luciano Lliuya, this project shares insights from the 1941 glacier lake outburst flood in Huaraz as well as from the workers living at the camp below the Palcacocha glacier lake.
The dimension of civil law in the Loss & Damage debate. How large greenhouse-gas emmiters can be held liable for the consequences of climate change. The example of the first climate lawsuit against an energy company before German courts. This factsheet presents the case of Saúl Luciano LLiuya against RWE and addresses the question of causality.
"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."
Channel 4 News, 15.07.2020
Video: Who should pay to fix the climate emergency?
ABC Australia, 12.07.2020
Podcast: Climate in the Courtroom (Part 2 of 3): A fossil fuel company is sued. Now it speaks.
Pulitzer Center, 19.05.2020
In Order to Talk About Climate Change, We Need to Talk About Colonialism
Climate lawsuits are breaking new legal ground to protect the planet
The New York Times Magazine, 09.04.2019
Climate Change Could Destroy His Home in Peru. So He Sued an Energy Company in Germany.
TIME Magazine, 05.10.2018
Climate Change Could Destroy This Peruvian Farmer's Home
Deutsche Welle, 14.03.2018
Video: Farmer in Peru vs. a German utility (4 min.)
Peruvian Farmer Explains His Lawsuit Against Energy Firm
Deutsche Welle (english), 09.01.2018
Four climate change lawsuits to watch in 2018
The Guardian, 30.11.2017
German court to hear Peruvian farmer's climate case against RWE
The Guardian, 10.09.2017
See you in court (Editorial)
International Business Times, 25.11.16
A Peruvian farmer is suing German energy giant RWE over climate change
New York Times, 10.05.2017
In Novel Tactic on Climate Change, Citizens Sue Their Governments
The Guardian / theguardian.com, 16.03.2015
Peruvian farmer demands climate compensation from German company