To date, no climate change litigation has been brought by a citizen(s) challenging Slovenia’s climate policy. However, a claim could be based on the following grounds:
- Constitutional rights:
- Article 72 of the Slovenian Constitution grants the right to a healthy living environment. This right can be violated by continuous changes in the climate. The State has an obligation to protect this right and any violation can form the basis for litigation.
- Article 70a grants the right to drinking water. Climate change projections for Slovenia indicate serious drought in the summer months, meaning that drinking water resources will become scarcer. The State has an obligation to take appropriate action to prevent the reduction of this resource.
- Pursuant to Article 24 of the Constitutional Court Act, individuals may file a petition for review of constitutionality or legality of regulations or general act, which grants individuals the right to access court if they believe that a climate policy or law violates the rights mentioned above.
- The Environmental Protection Act 2004 (EPA):
- Article 14 grants individuals the right to request the court to discontinue an activity affecting the environment if it causes, or would cause, an excessive environmental burden, or presents, or would present, a direct threat to human life or health. Enactment of an insufficient climate policy could arguably be an activity by a public authority affecting the environment, which could be challenged in court.
- The EPA requires public participation in environmental decision making and grants individuals the right to participate in preparation of environmental policies and regulations (Article 13). If a climate policy is developed without proper public participation, then litigation can be pursued.
- Pursuant to Article 14 of EPA, the Human Rights Ombudsman may launch an investigation relating to violation of environmental rights by an act of a public authority and if a violation is confirmed, prepare a report with recommendations. This opens the door for the Ombudsman to investigate whether a Climate Policy is in violation of the right to a healthy living environment. However, there is a requirement for proof of an injured party from the violations, which could prevent proceedings, as climate change generally affects populations, as opposed to causing specific and direct damage to an individual or group of individuals.
The Constitutional Court can remedy a breach of constitutional right through a declaration of unconstitutionality. Additionally, the Administrative Court can remedy breaches of the EPA through the discontinuation of an activity affecting the environment Finally, the Ombudsman can prepare a report with recommendations to all parties involved, including public authorities.
In terms of locus standi, claimants in constitutional matters have to demonstrate a legal interest. This can be demonstrated if the challenged regulation or general act directly interferes with the claimants’ rights, legal interests, or legal position (Article 24 of the Constitutional Court Act). While the court has found that a professional association involved in ecosystem protection has standing to challenge constitutionality of a municipal ordinance (case U-I-30/95), legal interest is generally interpreted narrowly and in restrictive manner. Claimants have to show a sufficiently direct and concrete effect (case U-I-113/00). Courts have also rejected a NGO’s legal interest on the ground that the general assertion that they live and work in the area of a local community does not constitute their right to challenge constitutionality of a municipal ordinance (case U-I 255/00) .
Possible reasons for the lack of climate change litigation could be difficulty of proving legal standing and the difficult and costly manner of gathering sufficient evidence to prove the case.
For more country specific context and relevant national climate change law see: https://climate-laws.org/geographies/slovenia
This country report has been produced by Robbie McAdam, C2LI Research Assistant, Iona McEntee, C2LI Senior Research Assistant and Lydia Omuko-Jung, C2LI Legal Analyst. This summary is based on Vasilka Sancin and Maša Kovič Dine, “Emerging Awareness of Climate Change Litigation in Slovenia” in F. Sindico and M. Moise Mbengue, Comparative Climate Change Litigation: Beyond the Usual Suspects, Springer, 2021.