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A new European Court of Human Rights ruling has established a vital new precedent


The judgement shows litigation can be used to hold governments to account on their climate ambitions – but much will depend on policy outcomes.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has set an important precedent through its 9 April judgment in the Verein KlimaSeniorinnen Schweiz and Others v. Switzerland case. 

In its ruling, the Court states that Switzerland has a responsibility under the European Convention for Human Rights (ECHR) to combat climate change effectively to protect the human rights of their citizens – and as a result can be held accountable for inadequate climate policies and mitigation measures.

The judgment drew on existing national and international human rights instruments on climate change, including domestic jurisprudence in countries who are signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The decision developed important principles for climate change cases which domestic courts of ECHR members can consider, strengthening legal pathways that can and should be used strategically to bring accountability in the fight against climate change.

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