Wyrok trybunał praw człowieka klimat Szwajcaria

An unusual judgment of the Human Rights Tribunal. Poland may be afraid

The Human Rights Tribunal ruled that the state's failure to address climate change violated the human rights of its citizens. This judgment opens the way to suing subsequent governments that are slow to protect the climate. This is a warning for Poland.

Swiss citizens reported to the Court. Their victory is the first such case in its history. Over 2,000 women aged 64 and over applied to the Tribunal. In their opinion, the inaction of the Swiss government puts them at risk of dying during heatwaves. Especially since their age and gender make these women more sensitive to these phenomena. And in recent months it has only been warmer globally.

Switzerland must pay

Meanwhile, last year's research by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health shows that in the summer of 2022, over 61,000 deaths were related to heat. The vast majority are, of course, elderly people – indicates the Foreign Policy website.

A 17-member panel of judges in Strasbourg, France, found that the Swiss government had failed to meet its greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, thereby violating women's rights to effective protection against the “serious negative effects of climate change on life, health, well-being and quality of life.” . It is worth emphasizing that in 2017, Switzerland committed to reducing emissions by 50% compared to 1990 levels by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

Additionally, the Court ordered Switzerland to pay the plaintiffs (members of a group known as KlimaSeniorinnen or Senior Women for Climate Protection) almost $87,000 (over PLN 340,000) to cover their expenses. There is no appeal against the verdict. However, it can be expected that if Switzerland does not introduce any changes to its climate actions, it may result in further lawsuits and financial penalties.

Next in line

The Tribunal's decision itself is also important for one more reason. It constitutes a binding legal precedent for the 46 countries that are signatories of the European Convention on Human Rights. Suffice it to say that six other climate cases are currently suspended in court awaiting Tuesday's decision. This includes a lawsuit against Norway. It alleges that the country violated the human rights of its citizens by issuing licenses for oil and gas production in the Barents Sea after 2035.

In this context, we can probably expect a similar lawsuit from Poland sooner rather than later. In such a case, the government will probably have to demonstrate that it has not neglected appropriate actions to move away from a coal-based economy.

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