Elderly Emissions reductions/mitigation European Convention on Human Rights European Court of Human Rights Fair trial Gender / women-led Keywords Margin of appreciation Paris Agreement Private and family life Right to life Switzerland Victim status

Verein KlimaSeniorinnen et al. v. Switzerland

In 2016, the Senior Women for Climate Protection Switzerland (German: ‘Verein KlimaSeniorinnen’), a Swiss organisation, brought proceedings concerning the alleged omissions of the Swiss federal government to adopt an adequate climate protection policy. They submitted that current domestic climate targets and measures are not sufficient to limit global warming to a safe level. This failure to prevent climate-related disasters, they argue, represents a failure to protect the enjoyment of the rights under Articles 2 and 8 ECHR (the rights to life and respect for private and family life, respectively) of the organization’s members. The applicants also invoke two procedural rights under the Convention, namely the rights in Articles 6 and 13 ECHR (right to a fair trial and right to an effective remedy, respectively).

These claims were rejected by the domestic instances at three levels of jurisdiction. The Swiss Federal Supreme Court, in its ruling, considered that the case represented an actio popularis, concerned questions better suited to the political arena, and did not raise an arguable claim of a rights violation.

This case was only the second climate change-related case to come to Strasbourg. Like the Duarte Agostinho case, this application raises novel questions before the Court, including the issue of victim status in climate cases, the standing of (environmental) NGOs to bring cases to the Court, and the extent of the State margin of appreciation in regard to environmental protection measures related to climate change, and the extent of the positive obligation to protect individuals from the risks to their life and health posed by climate change.

Third-party interventions:
There have been an unusually large (for the ECtHR) number of third party interventions in this case: 23 in total. The KlimaSeniorinnen association has provided copies of all of the third-party interventions; these are available here. Some of the third-party interveners will also appear during the oral hearing before the Grand Chamber.







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Status of case:

This case was communicated to the respondent State, Switzerland, on 17 March 2021. On 26 April 2022, a Chamber of the Court relinquished jurisdiction in favour of the Grand Chamber, held a public hearing in this case on 29 March 2023. A webcast of the hearing is available here.

Grand Chamber hearing:

This was the first climate case heard by the European Court of Human Rights, followed immediately by the Carême v. France case. The Court has adjourned its examination of six other climate cases until the Grand Chamber has ruled in the three climate change cases before it, meaning that leading judgments clarifying the Convention obligations around cliamte change can be expected in these cases.

During the hearing, submissions were heard from the applicants, the respondent State, and two of the 23 total third-party interveners (the Government of Ireland & the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI). A live summary of the hearing is available here.

Suggested case citation:

ECtHR,Verein KlimaSeniorinnen Schweiz and Others v. Switzerland, no. 53600/20, Communicated Case, 17 March 2021, relinquishment to the Grand Chamber on 26 April 2022.


Webcast of the hearing:

To watch a webcast recording of the public hearing in this case, which was held before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights on 29 March 2023, click here (available in French and English).

Last updated:

5 October 2023

2021 Access to a remedy Elderly Emissions reductions/mitigation European Convention on Human Rights European Court of Human Rights Fossil fuel extraction Norway Private and family life Prohibition of torture Right to life

The Norwegian Grandparents’ Climate Campaign and Others v. Norway

This case was filed on 26 March 2021 by The Norwegian Grandparents’ Climate Campaign (or Besteforeldrenes klimaaksjon, see the NGO’s website here, which counted 5600 members at the time and aims to counter anthropogenic climate change) along with four individuals, who were then aged 29, 32, 80, and 9 months. According to the Court’s press release, the case relates to the same domestic proceedings as the subject of Greenpeace Nordic and Others v. Norway (no. 34068/21). Before the Court, the applicants invoke Articles 2, 3, 8, 13 and 14 ECHR and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention (the right to life, the prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment, the right to respect for private and family life, the right to an effective remedy, the prohibition of discrimination and the right to property). They rights, they argue, have been infringed by the Norwegian authorities’ petroleum activities in the Barents Sea in the Arctic Ocean. They describe, in particular, the disastrous effects of rising temperature levels on Norway, invoking the prevention and precautionary principles, inter-generational equity and Norway’s duty of care.

The applicants argue that there is a “real and imminent threat” facing them as Norwegian oil production contributes to the reaching of tipping points in the global climate system. On the Court’s victim status requirements (standing), they argue that these criteria must be interpreted in harmony with the priniciple of inter-generational equity, and invoke both the Rio Declaration and the Paris Agreement to argue that current generations have a duty to act as stewards of the planet for future generations.

This case has not yet been communicated by the Court at the time of writing. It had been announced, however, that the case has been adjourned pending the outcome of Grand Chamber proceedings in three other climate cases (i.e. KlimaSeniorinnen, Duarte Agostinho, and Carême; see “Status of case” below). More information on the case will be published as it becomes available.

Date filed:
26 March 2021

Status of case:
Adjourned until the Grand Chamber has ruled in the climate change cases pending before it (see the ECtHR’s press release here).

Suggested case citation:
ECtHR, The Norwegian Grandparents’ Climate Campaign and Others v. Norway, application no. 19026/21, filed on 26 March 2021 (not yet communicated).

More information:
For the NGO’s press release on the application (in Norwegian), click here.

For further information on the domestic proceedings, see Greenpeace Nordic and Others v. Norway (no. 34068/21).

For the full standardized application form submitted to the ECtHR, see here.

Last updated:
16 March 2023.