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Article Sweden: Supreme Court Will Determine Admissibility of Climate Case Against Swedish Government

On April 25, 2024, the Swedish Supreme Court announced that it will grant leave (prövningstillstånd) to hear a climate lawsuit, commonly known as the “Aurora Case” (Auroramålet), to determine whether a group action can be brought in court against the Swedish state over measures it has taken or failed to take related to climate change.

Procedural History

The case was originally brought before the Nacka District Court in 2022, whereby the applicants, a group of young climate activists known as the Aurora group, asked the court to rule that the Swedish government was failing to take sufficient measures to meet its obligation to reach the climate change goals, and that this failure violated the claimants’ rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. The claimants also argued that the court was obligated to hear the case to ensure effective access to Swedish courts. (Nacka District Court, Case No. T 8304-22.)

The district court, with the consent of both parties, asked the Supreme Court to rule on whether the case was admissible under Swedish procedural rules. It framed the question as follows:

whether, under the rules in the Criminal and Civil Procedure Code [(Rättegångsbalken [RB](SFS 1942:720))] a group claim can or should be brought in light of the rules in chapter 13 of the Criminal and Procedural Code, fundamental values of the Swedish state governance, as well as Sweden’s obligations and commitments under EU law and international law to ensure effective court protection for individuals?

Olof Roos, judge at the Nacka District Court, further explained that “the constitutional issue relates to the separation of powers doctrine and more specifically about the distinction between some of Sweden’s various centers of power, namely the Swedish Parliament, the government and the courts.”

The Supreme Court will only hear this procedural question, not the merits of the applicants’ claims. If the Supreme Court determines that the case can be brought before Swedish courts, the case will return to the Nacka District Court, whose decision on the merits of the case would be appealable in the first instance to the Svea Court of Appeals. (49 ch. 1 § RB.) Decisions of the Svea Court of Appeals may be appealed to the Supreme Court, subject to the Supreme Court’s granting leave to appeal. (3 ch. 1, 5 §§ RB.)

The Swedish Supreme Court decision to hear the case comes on the heels of an April 9, 2024, decision by the European Court of Human Rights where it found that “the Swiss Confederation had failed to comply with its duties under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) concerning climate change.”

Elin Hofverberg, Law Library of Congress
May 28, 2024

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Chicago citation style:

Hofverberg, Elin. Sweden: Supreme Court Will Determine Admissibility of Climate Case Against Swedish Government. 2024. Web Page. https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-05-28/sweden-supreme-court-will-determine-admissibility-of-climate-case-against-swedish-government/.

APA citation style:

Hofverberg, E. (2024) Sweden: Supreme Court Will Determine Admissibility of Climate Case Against Swedish Government. [Web Page] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-05-28/sweden-supreme-court-will-determine-admissibility-of-climate-case-against-swedish-government/.

MLA citation style:

Hofverberg, Elin. Sweden: Supreme Court Will Determine Admissibility of Climate Case Against Swedish Government. 2024. Web Page. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-05-28/sweden-supreme-court-will-determine-admissibility-of-climate-case-against-swedish-government/>.