Climate & Energy

Image courtesy of Junior Henry.

We develop and promote legal initiatives contributing to an incremental transformation towards clean and decentralized energy production and consumption in EU countries.

A legal environment that increases the transparency and accountability of public decision-making on energy issues, and restricts the influence of energy monopolies and oligopolies, is a necessary precondition for the transformation to occur.

We act against the development of large centralized energy sources, such as coal power plants, and we promote legal frameworks that support the integration of decentralized renewable energy generation. It is our belief that a gradual decentralization of energy generation will also enhance the democratic principles of our society.

We view the decarbonisation of energy generation as a necessary element of the response to the problem of global climate change.

Stopping large coal projects

Coal projects present a serious threat to the natural and living environment. Burning of fossil fuels significantly contributes to global greenhouse gas emissions, which play a significant role in climate change. Related mining activities are directly associated with many forms of environmental degradation.

The development of new coal projects, as well as the prolonged operation of existing facilities, slows down the transition to decentralized energy sources and pre-determines the energy supplies for the next decades.

In Central and Eastern European countries, a considerable number of coal-based projects have been planned. If all of these plans are realized, it would result in prolonging the high dependency on coal in this region for decades to come.

Therefore, we implement legal strategies in order to halt development, or to minimize the negative impacts of these large coal projects, in the Czech Republic, Poland and in other European countries.

Promoting inter-state responsibility for climate change impacts

Any strategy, policy, or project with a significant implication in terms of greenhouse gas pollution should not be approved without full consideration of its impact on global climate change. We promote interstate responsibility for climate change impacts in various international legal fora in order to open a debate to reconsider this issue under the current international legal framework. For example, in cooperation with Greenpeace, we helped the Federated States of Micronesia to test the first ever transregional use of a Transboundary Impact Assessment in the case of lignite power plant, Prunerov, in the Czech Republic.

Right to clean air

Together with Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V. we co-ordinate the project Right to Clean Air. The purpose of this project is to promote air pollution control measures in different source areas and support legal action at European and national level.

Air pollution is still one of the greatest challenges of our time. Despite Europe-wide policies and the judicially confirmed "right to clean air", limit values for air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) or particulate matter (PM10) are regularly exceeded in many cities and metropolitan areas. This is damaging to the health of citizens and detrimental to our environment and the climate.

The European Commission has already initiated numerous infringement proceedings due to the continued exceedance of air quality limit values.

This project provides environmental and consumer protection organisations in Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, France, Italy and Slovakia with information on participation processes, e.g. participation in the development of air quality maintenance plans. In addition to this, access to justice as a fundamental right within the EU and the priority principle in the Commission's Work Programme are being improved. This also reinforces the competent administrations in the implementation of effective measures aimed at reducing emissions. A broad network of NGOs and lawyers as well as local and regional authorities from various Member States is being established. Best practice measures regarding pollution abatement in the areas of transport and industry are being evaluated and disseminated. The project activities also reinforce the general public's awareness of EU legislation and the positive impacts on the environment and health.