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Verein KlimaSeniorinnen Schweiz and Others v Switzerland [2024]

Verein KlimaSeniorinnen Schweiz and Others v Switzerland [2024] ECHR 087, delivered by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), is a landmark judgment addressing the issue of climate change under the European Convention on Human Rights. The ECtHR found that Switzerland violated Article 8, which pertains to the right to respect for private and family life, and Article 6 § 1, related to access to court. This decision marks a significant recognition of the impact of climate change on human rights and the obligations of states under the Convention to combat its effects.


The case was brought by a Swiss association, Verein KlimaSeniorinnen Schweiz, representing older women concerned about global warming's impact on their living conditions and health, and four individual members of the association. The ECtHR determined that the association had standing (locus standi) to bring the case on behalf of its members, acknowledging the serious adverse effects of climate change on individuals' lives, health, well-being, and quality of life as encompassed within Article 8 of the Convention.


The ECtHR highlighted the Swiss authorities' failure to implement adequate measures to mitigate climate change, including setting and meeting greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and establishing a comprehensive domestic regulatory framework for addressing climate change. This failure constituted a breach of Switzerland's positive obligations under the Convention.


Furthermore, the ECtHR found a violation of Article 6 § 1, emphasising the importance of access to justice in climate change litigation and the role of national courts in ensuring that Convention obligations are observed. The Swiss courts had dismissed the association's complaints without adequately considering the substantial evidence concerning climate change's impact, thereby infringing upon the association's right to access a court.


This judgment signifies a pivotal moment in the legal recognition of climate change as a human rights issue, setting a precedent for future climate litigation and underscoring the necessity for states to take effective action to combat climate change in compliance with their human rights obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.


Check out our high-performance International Human Rights Law, and International Protection of Human Rights notes now.


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