Climate change: Peru farmer’s claims against German energy giant RWE ‘admissible’ in court

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A German court has ruled “admissible” a Peruvian farmer’s claims that energy giant RWE’s contributions to climate change threaten his Andean home. Environmentalists have praised the court for writing “legal history.”

Climate change activists on Monday hailed a German court’s decision to proceed with a Peruvian farmer’s case against German energy company RWE.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the court in the German town of Hamm found that Saul Luciano Lliuya’s allegations that RWE’s contributions to global warming were threatening his hometown of Huaraz had merit.

Luciano argues that RWE must share in the cost of protecting his Andean town from a swollen ice glacier that risks overflowing from melting snow and ice. The farmer is asking for just €17,000 ($20,000) from RWE, which would go towards funding flood defenses he plans to install for his community, as well as a further 6,384 euros in reimbursement for money he already spent out of his own pocket on protective measures.

Read more: Peruvian ice caps melting so fast, politics can’t keep up

Klaus Milke, chairman of the environmental pressure group Germanwatch, which is advising Luciano’s claim, praised the court in Hamm for writing “legal history.”

Why has Luciano singled out Germany’s RWE in his claim?

Why is the case important?

Court expected to hear evidence

The court in Hamm has given both sides until November 30 to provide further arguments before deciding how to proceed. However, it added that the claim was “likely to proceed” to hearing evidence.

“It’s good news for the many potential plaintiffs worldwide who will be emboldened to take action themselves,” Klaus said.

Read more: Can we live in a world without fossil fuels? 

The case coincides with COP23 climate change conference taking place in Bonn, just a two-hour drive away from Hamm. Delegates at the Bonn conference  have gathered to negotiate the rulebook for the 2015 Paris climate pact, which calls for temperatures to be capped at “well below” two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

dm/ls (epa, Reuters, AFP)

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