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Swiss women win landmark climate case at Europe top human rights court

 Climate litigation: A conversation with Senior Women for Environmental Protection

Photo credit: Yoshiko Kusano

On April 9th, 2024, the Senior Women for Environmental Protection won their long overdue case in the court. Some group of elderly Swiss women founded in 2016 took their government to court for the appropriate policy to enforce climate action for human rights. These women are fighting for future generations not to bear the burden of the climate crisis. There have been records of heatwaves in Switzerland that have claimed the lives of people and yet Switzerland is a signatory of the Paris Climate Agreement to keep the goal of 1.5 degrees alive. For the past 8 years, they have passed through a series of courts to judge the connection of the environment to be directly related to human rights since climate change is a violence against our human rights. This verdict issued by the European Court of Human Rights in support of the agreement justified their appeal not only for Switzerland alone but extended to other forty-six European countries.

During the discussion with Stefanie Brander, one of the Senior Women for Environmental Protection, the issue of democracy arose. According to her, “Democracy is beyond voting, it is based on fundamental human rights and the duty to protect people”. There is no democracy without environmental protection. According to Stefanie, “It is to checkmate our planetary boundaries, by setting up a carbon budget because Switzerland doesn’t have a carbon budget so it can’t tell how much carbon is emitted in a year. This is also applicable not only on domestic emissions but also on international levels because there are a lot of monetary commitments that support the greenhouse gas emissions on fossil trading place that generates a lot of greenhouse gas abroad.”

Inspired by the climate youth movement, these women thought to play their part to do something about it by using the climate litigation process to seek true justice. According to Stefanie, “It is important to work with different forces and platforms to leverage on for climate justice”. According to the organization, from now onward, their eyes are on the government to act on the climate crisis. These women laud the support they received “Greenpeace” all through the process. This victory is coming at a time when the world is dealing with a series of climate crises; from the heatwave in Nigeria to the flood in Dubai and global climate processes and events too. This is not just a victory for the Swiss women alone, it is a victory for all. There are many ways and tools we could use to call for climate justice.  This further shows how we can use the climate litigation process to call for climate justice. This is also a way we can hold our government accountable for their inaction. This is why women should not be left behind, they are a role model on the solution provided in solving the climate crisis.

Watch the full interview here via our YouTube channel below:

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