30 May 2022, 14:04
Sören Amelang

Peruvian farmer’s climate lawsuit against German energy company RWE enters decisive stage

Clean Energy Wire

A landmark climate lawsuit by a Peruvian farmer and mountain guide against RWE over the German energy supplier’s contribution to climate change has entered a decisive stage. Judges, litigants and experts travelled to Peru to investigate Saúl Luciano Lliuya’s claim that his home is at risk from flooding from a rapidly growing glacial lake above the city of Huaraz, said environmental NGO Germanwatch, which supports the claim. Following the investigation, it will be a matter of proving the scientific connection between RWE’s accumulated CO2 emissions and the risk to the plaintiff in this individual case. “I hope that the judges and also the representatives of RWE have recognised through their visit the constantly increasing risk to which we are exposed here,” said Lliuya. “The question for us is not whether a tidal wave is imminent, but when and how badly it will hit us.”

In November 2015, Lliuya filed claims for declaratory judgement and damages in a German court against RWE, Germany’s largest electricity producer. Lliuya’s suit alleged that RWE, having knowingly contributed to climate change by emitting substantial volumes of greenhouse gases, bore some measure of responsibility for the melting of the glaciers above his home, resulting in the flood risk. This is the first case of its kind to have got this far in the courts and is closely watched because over 90 jurisdictions across the globe share the basic nuisance provision that is being used to fight the case. The case is “a precedent for whether, in the face of the climate crisis, the largest emitters worldwide must finance protection and compensation for damages on a pro rata basis for the people affected by the consequences,” Germanwatch said.

Lliuya is arguing that RWE should pay 0.47 percent of the adaptation costs associated with the glacial retreat. This is based on a study, which attributes this share of global greenhouse gas emissions to RWE, and another study, which analyses the role of anthropogenic climate change in the retreat of the glacier above the lake. RWE considers the claim to be unfounded.

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