Thinker's Chronicle

Switzerland’s Failed Climate Action

A historic case in Switzerland became one of the first of its kind to introduce penalties to a country through use of an international court, in this case the European Court of Human Rights. The significance of such a case can seep into other countries by proving that action will be taken against countries which do not adhere to certain environmental standards set by themselves.

The case was filed by the KlimaSeniorinnen, also known as the Senior Women for Climate Protection. They argued that their health was put into jeopardy by proving that increased greenhouse emissions and heat waves led to a higher rate of death especially within their demographic as it left them more vulnerable. The court ruled that Switzerland had indeed violated their human rights, but it is still deciding what further measures the country has to take to repair the damage. While this may seem like a great victory, many were hoping for an even larger one.

Photo Credits: The Washington Post

This case was in fact one of three in which activists hoped to use to send a clear message to the rest of the world. The first of the other cases was filed by a former mayor, Damien Carême,  in northern France stating that the country’s inaction against climate change could lead to a higher risk of flooding in the area. The case was let go after it was argued that Carême, who no longer lived in France, had no ties with the town he was arguing for. The second case was of a group from Portugal who argued that the forest fires and heat waves that forced their schools to close were a direct effect of climate change. This case was also dropped after the court said that they should have first brought the case to the states before bringing it to an international court.

The European Court of Human Rights, the international court for which all three cases were filed for, does not disqualify people from other non-European countries from filing a case. This court case was one of the first steps to holding countries accountable for their actions instead of allowing them to offer weak placations.

Photo Credits: Axios

The world has never seen a threat to human rights of the scope presented by climate change.

Jessica Simor, one of the lawyers representing KlimaSeniorinnen

While many people were hoping for a more resounding statement with three cases putting more pressure on governments, it is still a prominent win for environmentalists around the world.

Mihika Rajeev