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European Court of Human Rights issues rulings on three major climate change cases

The countries involved in these cases include Switzerland, France, and Portugal

The Lawyer Mag - Australasian Lawyer

By Angelica Dino

April 17, 2024

Credits @FFHR.CZ

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) delivered grand chamber rulings on three landmark climate change cases.

In the first case, Verein KlimaSeniorinnen Schweiz and Others v. Switzerland, the Court addressed a complaint from four women and a Swiss association, Verein KlimaSeniorinnen Schweiz, focused on the impact of global warming on their living conditions and health. The plaintiffs argued that Swiss authorities had not taken adequate measures to mitigate the effects of climate change.

The ECHR recognized the right to effective protection from the severe adverse effects of climate change under the Convention. It declared the individual complaints inadmissible due to the lack of victim status under Article 34 of the Convention but acknowledged the association's right to file a complaint. The court concluded that Switzerland had violated the right to respect for private and family life and the right to access the court, failing to meet its "positive obligations" under the Convention concerning climate change.

The second case, Carême v. France, involved a complaint by Damien Carême, former mayor of Grande-Synthe, France. Carême claimed that France's insufficient actions to combat global warming violated the right to life and respect for private and family life. The ECHR declared the application inadmissible, ruling that Carême did not have victim status as required by Article 34 of the Convention.

The third case, Duarte Agostinho and Others v. Portugal and 32 Others, brought forth by a group of applicants affected by the current and future severe effects of climate change, sought accountability from Portugal and 32 other states. The applicants argued that these effects impacted their lives, well-being, mental health, and the peaceful enjoyment of their homes.

The court found no basis in the Convention for extending extraterritorial jurisdiction to the respondent states beyond Portugal. Additionally, it declared the complaints against Portugal inadmissible for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies, and similarly, the applications against the other states were dismissed.


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