Swiss women achieve historic climate victory

Swiss women achieve historic climate victory

By Ashmeeta Subra  April 23rd, 2024

The European Court of Human Rights handed a historic win to a group of Swiss women challenging their government's climate inaction, marking the first groundbreaking verdict against a nation’s climate inaction.


The Swiss women's group, KlimaSeniorinnen, is a group of elderly women in Switzerland over the age of 64 who are pushing for stronger action to address climate change. With over 2,500 members, the association aims for federal authorities to correct the course of Swiss climate policy, which they argue currently lacks adequate climate targets and measures to limit global warming to a safe level.   

The association also said the government’s lack of action exposed them to risks of mortality during to frequent and intense heatwaves. Despite facing setbacks in Swiss courts, where their legal actions were dismissed, the group persisted in their pursuit of climate justice.  

"If you think that these are just women who have now grown old and now complain about it being too hot, no," Elisabeth Stern told SBS News. 

"We have been activists all our lives.” 

In 2020, the group filed their case in the European Court of Human Rights, seeking recognition of climate protection as a fundamental human right. The court's ruling, issued on April 9 2024, found Switzerland was in violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to respect for private and family life. 

This verdict, which cannot be appealed, could compel the Swiss federal government to take more decisive action in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It also includes a revision of Switzerland's emissions targets for 2030 to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement, namely limiting global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels.  

Importantly, the ruling sets a legal precedent for all Council of Europe states, reinforcing the notion of climate protection as a fundamental human right and setting the expectation for similar cases to be brought elsewhere. Following their success in the European Court of Human Rights, KlimaSeniorinnen, in collaboration with Greenpeace, are now gearing up to take their case to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.  

This next step highlights their firm commitment to holding governments accountable for climate action and seeking justice for future generations. 

Image credits to Shervine Nafissi and Greenpeace.

Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.


Ashmeeta Subra

With background in international relations and marketing communications, Ashmeeta is excited to use her skills to encourage positive environmental actions through Planet Ark. She believes that by taking small actions, we can help make a big difference and be good stewards of our planet. Outside of work, she loves spending time in nature and enjoying downtime at the beach.

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