Stockholm District Court denies trial of youth’s Magnolia Case
Stockholm District Court has given notice that they will not address the Magnolia case – young people’s lawsuit application against the Swedish state for allowing the sale of state-owned utility company Vattenfall’s lignite operations in Germany. The 178 plaintiffs will appeal the decision to the Court of Appeals.
The Stockholm District Court motivates the decision as follows: “… it can be concluded that the plaintiffs’ action does not mean that they have been exposed in an indefensible manner to a real life threat, or that there have been any material harmful effects whatsoever.”
– That the case is not being addressed is a clear indication that the protection for future generations needs to be strengthened in Swedish legislation. According to the District Court, the lignite must be burned and climate change exacerbated before the state can be held accountable for letting it happen. We mean that decisions with such immense potential climate impact is a breach of law, but the District Court interprets the law differently. We will now proceed by appealing this decision. We also want to spark a debate about how the state can be held accountable for what it has committed itself to concerning goals, policies, international agreements and the constitution”, says Annika Hagberg from Push Sweden, one of the two youth organisations behind the lawsuit.
By appealing to the Swedish Court of Appeals, the 178 plaintiffs wish to show that the state’s sale of Vattenfall’s German lignite goes against, among others, the Generational Goal, which aims to “pass on a society to the next generation where the major environmental problems are solved, without causing increased environmental and health problems outside Sweden’s borders.” The Generational Goal was adopted by Swedish Parliament in 1999 and is to be achieved by 2020. The appeal is thus a strong signal to Sweden’s elected politicians that decisions of major importance to the climate cannot be taken simply on short-term economic grounds.
– A crucial challenge has been that all important documentation about the lignite transaction is classified: the state protects itself by not daring to publicly show the calculations made,” says Jan Palmblad, the legal representative of the Magnolia case.
– The emissions are a crime against Swedish citizens’ health and future, and they are just as harmful wherever they are emitted and whoever produces them. The state has allowed greatly increased climate emissions by EPH and PPF that will affect us in Sweden as well”, says Johan Andersson, chairperson of Swedish Nature and Youth, the other youth organisation behind the lawsuit application.
Around the world, people are now using judicial methods to contest climate harmful actions by public actors. A climate lawsuit of the federal US government by 21 youth, supported by the organisation Our Children’s Trust, is currently on trial at the federal court in Oregon. Similarly, courts around the world have raised citizen’s climate related cases, for example in the Netherlands and the Philippines. There is still hope that the Swedish legal system also will be able to constructively handle cases concerning our future survival, before the actual damage has been done.
On July 2 2016, the Ministry of Industry announced the approval of the sale where utility company Vattenfall sold its German lignite operations to Czech Energetický a Průmyslový Holding (EPH) and PPF Investment, despite long-standing and extensive civil society protests. Academia, trade unions, corporations and environmental organisations globally reacted against the deal – unfortunately to no avail. The sale motivated representatives from youth organisations Push Sweden and Swedish Nature and Youth to review the legal basis of the sale assisted by other climate organisations, several private individuals, and Swedish and international legal experts.
The lawsuit application, named the Magnolia Case, aims to make the sale declared illegal as it violates international agreements, Swedish climate targets, the Swedish constitution, the Generational Goal, the state’s ownership policy and Vattenfall’s own policy. The sale is likely to increase greenhouse gas emissions by up to 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 – the approximate equivalent of 22 times Sweden’s current annual national emissions. The sale sent a signal to the rest of the world that Sweden is not willing to take its climate responsibility seriously. The lawsuit application was filed at Stockholm’s District Court on September 15, 2016 and has acquired attention by international media as well as the global climate movement.
Twitter: #MagnoliaCase / #Magnoliamalet
Images from a human art installation of the goddess of justice Justitia outside the Stockholm District Court, with money vs the planet in the scales; and of the Magnolia case’s spokespersons, are available via http://bit.ly/2kW40BG (URL).
Photo credit of Justitia: Perikles L Nalbantis
Spokesperson Swedish Nature and Youth
Phone: +46 70-387 01 1eight
Spokesperson PUSH Sweden
Phone: +46 73-364 00 2two