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European Court ruling on the climate crisis

European Court ruling on the climate crisis

After the constitutional reform (articles 9 and 41) of Italy and the “Nature Restoration Law” of 27 February 2024 of the European Parliament, the Law on environmental and climate issues is updated by a historic ruling of the European Court.
In fact, for the first time in history, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) condemns a state (in this case Switzerland) for having taken insufficient measures against the climate crisis.
According to the ruling, the inadequacy of politics in combating the climate crisis constitutes a serious violation of human rights; this is what was established on Tuesday 9 April 2024 by the European Court of Human Rights.
We remind you that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR or ECtHR) is an international judicial body, established in 1959 by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) of 1950, to ensure its application and respect. All 46 members of the Council of Europe therefore join it.
This body, based in Strasbourg, therefore has the task of ensuring compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights.
This is a sentence destined to enter the history of climate justice because for the first time it recognized a State guilty of “climate inaction”.
Specifically, Switzerland was held responsible for not having done enough to protect its citizens, and in this case a group of elderly Swiss citizens, from the effects of climate change.
The lawsuit was brought following an action brought in the Swiss courts nine years ago by 2,500 women from the “Elders for the climate” association (KlimaSeniorinnen) who claimed, and maintain, that they could not leave their homes during heat waves without risking serious health consequences. The women, in their 70s, believe that their age and gender make them particularly vulnerable to the effects of heat waves and that their country has not done enough to protect them, affecting their well-being and quality of life.
After a careful evaluation of the Codes, the judges agreed with them, establishing that articles 8, which establishes the right to respect for private and family life, and 6, relating to access to a court, had been violated. This is also because the Swiss courts did not take the complaints presented by the association seriously, and the women were denied the right to have a fair trial in their own country.
The reasons for the Court’s ruling are that Switzerland – which has traditionally had rather ambitious climate policies – “has failed to fulfill its obligations under the Convention with respect to climate change”. There would have been “important gaps in policies to combat climate change, including the failure to quantify greenhouse gas reductions”. In short, the legislative system of the Transalpine country to address the climate emergency would have been considered insufficient. Switzerland had pledged to reduce harmful emissions by 20% below 1990 levels by 2020, but only reduced them by 14%.
In light of this historic ruling, we report others that were ignored by the Court itself, such as that of six young Portuguese people who had denounced their and 32 other European governments for climate inaction, claiming that heat waves and fires prevented them from playing football. open and to study and grow without the specter of eco-anxiety.
However, the reason is that the six have not exhausted the remedies available in Portugal, the state which is primarily responsible for the decision. The same goes for a former mayor of a small town in France, Damien Carême (once mayor of Grande-Synthe): for Carême, France’s inaction would be condemning the country to end up submerged by the North Sea, but the appeal is inadmissible because the man is no longer resident locally and is therefore not a direct victim of the effects of the climate crisis.
However, the ruling opens an important supranational window of opportunity.
This is another small step towards an International Law that places itself above the inefficiencies of various Governments in understanding how the climate crisis and ecological emergencies are, in fact, the prerequisite for a denial of Human Rights and, above all, for the rights of citizens of the future.
However, at this point, as they say, the ball passes to Politics which in recent years has been demonstrating a dangerous regression in the ecological field.
After the great turmoil of past years, the very request for revision of the Green Deal and the opposition to other important regulations, such as the “Nature Restoration Law”, are placing us face to face with a great historical question: whether at this point it is precisely the same economic system (almost blind to the issue) that will suffer the first negative effects of the climatic and ecological (as well as social) repercussions?
The answer would appear to be yes. This blindness is spreading the worm that will undermine the foundations of the castles of a finance that has escaped the rules of Nature and Human Rights.
The consequent reflections to Politics and those who maneuver it from the outside.

Guido Bissanti

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