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Landmark Climate Ruling

The European Court of Human Rights ruled yesterday that countries have an obligation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to protect people from the effects of climate change, marking the first successful international court ruling on climate change. The decision sets a legal precedent for climate litigation within the Council of Europe's 46 member states, including the 27 EU nations (see the difference).

Senior Women for Climate Protection, whose members are primarily in their 70s, argued their age and gender made them more vulnerable to the impacts of extreme heat brought on by climate change and Switzerland's failure to adequately regulate emissions violated their human rights. The ECHR said Switzerland's emission reduction efforts were inadequate and identified significant regulatory gaps. The Swiss government will need to decide how to fulfill its climate change obligations.

The court rejected two similar cases brought by six Portuguese youths and a former French mayor, citing procedural issues and a lack of territorial jurisdiction, respectively. The decisions come as new data revealed March was the 10th consecutive month to become the warmest on record. 

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