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The long-awaited expert opinion is now available

RWE case: The long-awaited expert opinion is now available

More than a year after the court visit to the Andean city of Huaraz, the expert report on the flood risk and the impact on the property of the plaintiff Saúl Luciano Lliuya has finally been released. A court-appointed expert prepared the comprehensive document, spanning more than 200 pages, which forms the basis for the next steps in the climate lawsuit of the Peruvian mountain guide against the energy company RWE.

In the upcoming weeks, a legal team led by Roda Verheyen will analyse the expert report alongside renowned glaciologists and the plaintiff himself. Both parties have until 15 November of this year to submit written statements. [1] The Higher Regional Court of Hamm is then expected to schedule a hearing to discuss the expert opinion in the first half of 2024.

If the court finds that the flood risk alleged by the plaintiff does indeed exist, the secondary burden of proof will have to clarify the extent to which climate change and RWE’s CO2 emissions are responsible for the risk of a glacial lake outburst flood.

Background of the lawsuit

Saúl Luciano Lliuya and Huaraz residents live under constant threat. Melting glaciers due to climate change have been steadily raising the water level of Lake Palcacocha above the city for years. Since 2003 alone, the size of the lake has more than quadrupled, and since 1970, it has grown 34 times over. A glacier collapse could unleash a metres-high tidal wave, devastating large parts of the city.

Glaciers are retreating as result of global warming. In 2021, a renowned research team proved that the flood risk from the Palcacocha glacial lake is predominantly a result of human-induced climate change. In his lawsuit, Saúl Luciano Lliuya demands that RWE contribute to the costs of protective measures at the lake in accordance with the company’s share of global emissions.

[1] The deadline has been extended and the parties have until 31.01.2024 to submit their comments.