Saturday, June 3, 2023

Climate activists sue EU countries for inaction

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Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Climate activists are suing EU governments for inaction, which they see as violation of their human rights.

The first such case will be heard at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg on 29 March, filed by KlimaSeniorinnen activist group, according to France24 reporting on Friday.

The group represents elderly women from Switzerland who are suing the government for the health effects of heat waves.

Also on 29 March, the ECHR will hear the case of Green MEP Damien Carême, who is suing France for not taking more ambitious environmental action.

The third case, brought by six youths and children from Portugal against 33 European countries, is to be heard after the summer.

The group, with ages ranging from 9 to 22, claims that the EU plus Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, and the UK violated their human rights. They want the ECHR to force the countries in question to take more ambitious climate action.


ECHR’s rulings will set a precedent on whether insufficiently ambitious climate action presents violation of human rights. They could encourage or discourage similar lawsuits in the future, both at the ECHR and national courts.

The group representing elderly Swiss women claims that the government violated their right to life by not hitting environmental targets. The group points to UN’s assessment that heat waves affect women and elderly people most.

In Carême’s case, the ECHR will assess whether lack of sufficiently ambitious environmental action by the government amounts to violation of his right to family and private life.

Portuguese youths claim that the 33 countries in question will have failed to limit global warming to 1.5°C by implementing insufficiently ambitious climate policies.

According to the group, failing to take sufficiently ambitious climate action threatens their right to life and is discriminatory against young people.

Switzerland argues that the ECHR is not in the position to act as a “supreme court” on environmental issues or enforce environmental agreements.

On the other hand, KlimaSeniorinnen wants the court to order CO2 cuts that would make Switzerland “net negative” by 2030. For comparison, the European Commission wants to make the EU carbon neutral by 2050.

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