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Does Climate Inaction Violate Human Rights?

For the first time, the European Court of Human Rights is now pondering this question.

European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights | Wikipedia

Two cases are currently under consideration. Plaintiffs argue that the governments of Switzerland and France violated their human rights by not doing enough to reduce climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions, which are primarily caused by the burning of fossil fuels. The hearings mark a “pivotal moment” for the legal fight for more ambitious climate action, Center for International Environmental Law human rights and climate campaign manager Sébastien Duyck told Climate Home News.

“They have the potential to set an influential legal precedent that would further confirm that states must take more adequate action against climate change as a matter of their human rights obligations,” said Duyck.

The ECHR is unlikely to decide either case before next year. Later this year, it will hear a third climate liability case brought by six Portuguese young people between the ages of 11 and 23 who similarly argue that the insufficient climate action of 32 countries including all of the EU threatens life and the rights of young people in particular.

If ECHR decides in favour of any of these plaintiffs, it could lead to a wave of similar lawsuits and a strengthening of EU emissions reduction plans.

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