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Climate change ruling by the European Court of Human Rights

15th April, 2024 Environment

Climate change ruling by the European Court of Human Rights

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Background of the Case:

  • 2,000 Swiss women over 64 years old sued the Swiss government in 2016 for inadequate climate policies.
  • They argued that climate change poses a threat to their right to life and health, particularly due to their vulnerability to heat-related illnesses.
  • The verdict is part of a broader trend of increasing climate litigation worldwide.

Court's Verdict:

  • The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in favor of the women, stating that Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights encompasses the right to protection from serious adverse effects of climate change.
  • The court found Switzerland in violation of the convention for failing to enact sufficient laws and meet greenhouse gas emission goals.

Significance of the Ruling:

  • The ruling obliges the Swiss government to update its climate policies.
  • While the court cannot dictate specific policies, it emphasises the need for consistency with climate science.
  • The ruling has implications beyond Switzerland, as it applies to 46 member states, potentially encouraging similar cases in other countries.
  • The verdict highlights the role of various groups, including children, women, indigenous peoples, and local communities, in holding governments and companies accountable for climate-related damages.
  • The ruling reinforces the idea that ambitious climate action is a requirement under human rights law.

Global Trends in Climate Litigation:

  • There has been a rise in climate-related cases globally, with 2,180 cases filed in 65 jurisdictions as of December 2022.
  • In Montana, USA, young plaintiffs won a case against their state government for neglecting climate change while approving fossil fuel projects.
  • Similar cases have been filed in India, demonstrating a global push for greater action on climate change through legal means.




Q) The recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in favor of the group of 2,000 Swiss women over 64 years old regarding climate change is significant  not only for Switzerland but also for other member states of the European Convention on Human Rights. In this regard, critically evaluate the broader global trend of increasing climate litigation, citing relevant examples from different jurisdictions.( 250 Words)