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.
There have been several third party interventions in this case.
For the full text of the joint intervention by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the Swiss Section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ-CH), click here.
For the full text of the third-party intervention submitted by the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI), click here.
For the seven other third party interventions filed in the case, click here.
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Communicated to the respondent State on 17 March 2021
Suggested case citation:
ECtHR,Verein KlimaSeniorinnen Schweiz and Others v. Switzerland, no. 53600/20, Communicated Case, 17 March 2021