Human rights violated by inaction on climate, ECHR rules in landmark case

(The Guardian, 9 Apr 2024) Court finds in favour of group of older Swiss women who claimed weak policies put them at greater risk of death from heatwaves.

Weak government climate policies violate fundamental human rights, the European court of human rights has ruled.

In a landmark decision on one of three major climate cases, the first such rulings by an international court, the ECHR raised judicial pressure on governments to stop filling the atmosphere with gases that make extreme weather more violent.

The court’s top bench ruled that Switzerland had violated rights of a group of older Swiss women to family life, but threw out a French mayor’s case against France and that of a group of young Portuguese people against 32 European countries.

“It feels like a mixed result because two of the cases were inadmissible,” said Corina Heri, a law researcher at the University of Zürich. “But actually it’s a huge success.”

The court, which calls itself “the conscience of Europe”, found that Switzerland had failed to comply with its duties to stop climate change. It also set out a path for organisations to bring further cases on behalf of applicants.

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The Guardian, 9 Apr 2024: Human rights violated by inaction on climate, ECHR rules in landmark case