A State condemned by the ECHR for climate inaction, “this is only the beginning”.

A State condemned by the ECHR for climate inaction this

For the first time in its history, the European Court of Human Rights has judged a State “guilty of violating human rights”, thus ruling in favor of a group of retirees.

The association “Les Aînées pour la protection du climat” emerged victorious in its action against the Swiss authorities after the European Court of Human Rights found the State guilty of failing to mitigate risks linked to climate change.

The collective of 2,500 retirees over the age of 64 attacked the Swiss state to denounce its inaction in the face of the consequences of global warming on their living conditions and their health. This Tuesday, April 9, by an almost total majority, the Court held that there had been a violation of Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention, relating to the “right to respect for private and family life” as well as article 6 which concerns access to a court. The Court noted “serious shortcomings, in particular a failure of the Swiss authorities to quantify […] national limits for greenhouse gas emissions.”

And therefore to ensure the right of its citizens to effective protection against the serious adverse effects of climate change on life, health, well-being and quality of life. The CEDH decision being final, the Swiss government has the obligation to respect it and must implement measures to guarantee the security of its population in the face of climate change.

An open path

In addition to the victory of this collective, this decision is a big step forward in terms of concrete action in the fight against global warming because the ECHR’s judgment could set a precedent in European law. This is also what was underlined by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, a figure in the fight for the climate, present in Strasbourg and accompanied by several NGOs and environmental activists.

“This is just the beginning when it comes to climate litigation: people all over the world are taking their governments to court to hold them accountable for their actions,” she said. This exemplary measure should motivate NGOs and environmental associations to take more legal action against governments.

However, the victory of the environmentalists is not complete, the other requests brought individually by members of the Swiss association, such as that brought by Damien Carême, former environmentalist mayor of the north of France, were rejected, the MEP is delighted as well as the unprecedented nature of this day and welcomes the path opened “at the level of the ECHR”. Finally, the highly publicized complaint filed by 6 young Portuguese people against their country and 31 other European states was also deemed inadmissible by the CEHD.