PUSH Sweden, Nature & Youth Sweden, et al. v. Government of Sweden

Year opened: 2017
Status: Decided
Jurisdiction: Sweden
Principle law(s):
Mitigation/adaptation: Mitigation


Vattenfall, an energy firm in which the Swedish government owns a controlling stake, agreed to sell several coal-fired power plants and associated mining assets to the German subsidiary of a Czech holding company. The sale was prompted in part by an environmental review that recommended Swedish divestment from fossil assets. Environmental NGOs and individual plaintiffs challenged the sale as a violation of the Swedish government’s duty of care to its citizens to protect their right to a non-harmful climate. The plaintiffs’ petition grounds this duty in the Swedish Constitution and Sweden’s adoption of several international agreements—the petition thus resembles submission made in the recent Urgenda decision in the Netherlands. The petition argued that the sale would enable the expanded exploitation of lignite coal assets, resulting in emissions in excess of limits that correspond to climate stability. It further noted that Sweden committed to act to avoid breaching those limits. On this basis, the plaintiffs asked the court to declare that 1) the Swedish state has breached its duty of care with the sale, and 2) the sale is illegal. The plaintiffs have also asked the court to order publication of the environmental review conducted in advance of the sale, which the government has so far withheld. The court denied these requests after determining that the plaintiffs had not experienced an injury from the governmental decisions at issue.

Core objective(s): Stop state-owned firm’s sale of coal and coal-burning assets to subsidiary of Czech holding company
Side A: PUSH Sweden, Nature and Youth Sweden, and others (Ngo, ngo, individuals)
Side B: Government of Sweden (Government)
  • Petition denied (Stockholm District Court)

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