The public hearing in Strasbourg took place on March 29, 2023. The judgement will be delivered at the earliest at the end of the year.

The Swiss case is one of three lawsuits against national governments that are being heard by the European court. The other actions include a case against the French government brought by a former mayor, and one against 33 European countries brought by 6 children and young adults living in Portugal. All three cases say that the governments are violating their human rights by failing to take sufficient action on climate change.

The plaintiffs in the Swiss suit want the nation to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions by more than 60% below 1990 levels by 2030, in line with the Paris accord target of limiting global warming to no more than 1.5 °C. They also want the country — a rich nation with relatively high historical emissions — to contribute to substantial emissions reductions abroad. Switzerland has committed to cutting emissions by at least 50% overall, but aims to achieve this with only a 34% domestic reduction, with the remaining 16% to be accounted for by emissions reductions abroad.

Since only people with legal standing can sue, the Swiss women have formed the Climate Seniors Association. Why an association? Because the legal proceedings should not depend on individual persons. Why female seniors? Because older women are particularly susceptible to intense and frequent heat waves. “Obviously, we are aware that older men, people with diseases as well as small children also suffer from heat waves and other climate effects. By focusing on the proven particular susceptibility of us older women we are simply enhancing our lawsuit’s chances of success which is ultimately good for everyone.”

The association counts over 2300 members (spring 2023) and they are still looking for additional senior Swiss female plaintiffs to join. Greenpeace Switzerland supports the case and guarantees the costs of the proceedings so that no financial risks arise for the association and its members. For more information, click the following:

Climate action

See also a recent article about this case in the magazine Nature