Europe rights court hears climate cases against governments


Published: 2023-03-29 13:55

Last Updated: 2023-09-27 23:06

Europe rights court hears climate cases against governments
Europe rights court hears climate cases against governments

The European Court of Human Rights will hear cases against France and Switzerland over alleged failings to protect the environment Wednesday, the first time governments are in the court's dock for alleged climate change inaction.

The case against Switzerland is based on a complaint by an association of elderly people -- who call themselves the "Club of Climate Seniors" -- concerned with the consequences of global warming on their living conditions and health, the ECHR said.

They accuse the Swiss authorities of various climate change failings which they say amount to a violation of the government's obligation to protect life and citizens' homes and families.

"This is a historic event," said Anne Mahrer (64) a member of the Swiss club, backed by Greenpeace Switzerland, where the average age is 73.

Around 50 of its 2,000 members will travel to Strasbourg for the hearing, Mahrer told AFP.

All reports on global warming over the past 20 years show that "everybody is affected", but the elderly more than others, especially older women because of cardiovascular and respiratory risks, she said.

All attempts to get the Swiss authorities to act on their behalf had failed, she said.

The case against France was brought by Damien Careme, a former mayor of Grande-Synthe, a suburb of Dunkirk in northern France, who also argues that the central government has failed to meet its obligation to protect life by taking insufficient steps to prevent climate change.

When he was mayor, Careme brought his case to the French judiciary on behalf of his town but also on his own behalf, saying climate change was raising the risk of his home being flooded.