Spain

Greenpeace et al v. Spain

Jurisdiction: Spain's Supreme Court


Principle law(s): Regulation 2018/1999 on the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action


Side A: Greenpeace Spain (Ngo)


Side A: Oxfam Intermón (Ngo)


Side A: Ecologistas en Acción (Ngo)


Side B: Spain (Government)


Core objectives:

Environmental groups sued Spanish government for greater climate action.


Summary
On September 15, 2020, Greenpeace Spain, Oxfam Intermón, and Ecologistas en Acción filed suit against the Spanish Government, alleging failure to take adequate action on climate change. The plaintiffs assert that Spain is in violation of Regulation (EU) 2018/1999 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 on the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action. According to plaintiffs, by last December Spain should have approved a National Energy and Climate Plan and Long Term Strategy; and the draft plan is not consistent with the Paris Agreement and IPCC recommendations to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. According to news reports, the complaint seeks an order compelling greater climate action.

On September 30, 2020, the Supreme Court admitted the statement of claim and required the Ministry of the Presidency to present its administrative file within 20 days. After the government presented its file, plaintiffs filed an application for the Court to order an expanded file on the argument that the file the government presented was incomplete. The Court rejected this application, and Plaintiffs appealed. 

In the meantime, on November 3, 2020, Spain's Council of Ministers approved a Long Term Decarbonization Strategy for 2050. Then, on November 26, 2020, the State Attorney filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff's claims with regard to the Long Term Strategy, and plaintiffs filed a motion on December 15, 2020 agreeing with the dismissal of that claim but retaining their suit challenging the lack of a 2030 plan. 

On December 15, 2020, plaintiffs filed their lawsuit in the Supreme Court, alleging that Spain unlawfully failed to produce a National Energy and Climate Plan with 2030 climate targets, in violation of national law, EU regulations, and their obligations under the Paris Agreement.

The government filed their response on March 2, 2021. Two weeks later, the Supreme Court issued a decision rejecting all of the plaintiffs' witnesses as irrelevant to the trial, and the plaintiffs appealed this decision.

Also in March 2021, the government approved the National Energy and Climate Plan. The defendants then filed a brief requesting dismissal of the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The plaintiffs filed their response on May 26, 2021. In the meantime, the plaintiffs filed an additional case challenging the National Energy and Climate Plan. 

On June 14, 2021, the Supreme Court rejected the defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Court found that the approval of the National Energy and Climate Plan did not exhaust plaintiffs' claims because their claims were broader than simply seeking the passage of the Plan. Instead, they sought an order that the Plan must be more ambitions in order to be aligned with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. The government appealed on June 30 and the plaintiffs responded to the appeal on July 9, 2021.
Case documents

Related laws and policies
  • This law implements European Union legislation
    Regulation 2018/1999 on the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action

    Passed in 2018 Legislative

    This document amends Regulations (EC) No 663/2009 and (EC) No 715/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Directives 94/22/EC, 98/70/EC, 2009/31/EC, 2009/73/EC, 2010/31/EU, 2012/27/EU and 2013/30/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council, Council Directives 2009/119/EC and (EU)...

from the Grantham Research Institute
from the Grantham Research Institute
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