Swiss Women Win Climate Case

May 7, 2024 By Ananya S, Writer Intern
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In a surprising turn of events, a group of elderly Swiss women sued their government in Europe’s biggest human rights court… and won!

A Swiss group called KlimaSeniorinnen, or Senior Women for Climate Protection, brought forth a case to the  European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regarding the ongoing climate crisis. 

This group, consisting of around 2000 women ages 64 and older, argued that Switzerland was violating their human rights by not taking adequate action against climate change, which greatly affects the lives and health of the Swiss people. 

How The Case Unfolded

The group cited data showing that elderly women were especially susceptible to climate change-induced heat waves because of their gender and age. The women claimed that intense heat aggravated their heart and respiratory diseases, could be fatal, and also caused them to suffer symptoms of fatigue and lightheadedness. 

On April 9th, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in favor of KlimaSeniorinnen, saying that Switzerland violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the “right to respect for private and family life,” by not protecting their citizens from the dangers of climate change and increasing their risk of death. 

This verdict puts pressure on Switzerland to meet its emission targets by 2030 as outlined in the Paris Agreement. The Court’s decision also sets a precedent for more climate cases. This is the first time in history that an international court has ruled that a government must meet its climate targets to comply with human rights law. This will likely usher in a wave of other lawsuits from other countries. 

With climate change seen as a human rights issue, this win is not just a win for the Swiss people, it is a win for everyone.