Strasbourg, France – The association of the Swiss Senior Women for Climate Protection, whose members took action against Switzerland for violating their human rights by failing to set sufficient climate targets have won a historic victory at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The court also delivered rulings on two other climate cases brought by six Portuguese young people and former French mayor Damien Carême.[1]

Co-President of the Swiss Senior Women for Climate Protection Rosmarie Wydler-Wälti said: “This ruling is not just a victory for the Senior Women for Climate Protection. Our victory is a victory for all generations. Especially for the Portuguese youth, whose generation will be beneficiaries of a long-term improved climate. The presence of the young people in the courtroom showed the judges the face of human rights for the future.” 

The Grand Chamber of the Court ruled this morning in the case “Verein KlimaSeniorinnen Schweiz and Others v. Switzerland” (application no. 53600/20) that Switzerland is violating the human rights of the older women because the state is not taking the necessary steps to combat global warming. Specifically, the court found a violation of Article 8 (right to private and family life) and Article 6 (right to court).

The Court also found that the action brought by the association, which currently represents over 2,500 women aged 64 and over, also has ‘victim status’. However, it ruled that the action brought by the individual applicants was inadmissible. It found that Switzerland had failed to comply with its duties under the Convention concerning climate change and must now adjust its current climate targets based on science.  

Lead lawyer for the Swiss Senior Women for Climate Protection Cordelia Bähr said: “I am absolutely overwhelmed and extremely proud that after nine years of intensive work, the senior women have finally got their due. This is an indescribable moment. The significance of this decision cannot be overestimated. It will be of great importance for further climate lawsuits against states and companies worldwide and increase their chances of success. The judgement shows citizens, judges and governments across Europe what is needed in terms of climate protection in order to respect human rights.”

For the first time, a transnational court specialising in human rights is directly upholding a right to climate protection. In its ruling, the ECtHR lays out specific requirements that member states must meet to comply with their human rights obligations.

The ruling is a landmark case for climate litigation globally. All Council of Europe states could be asked by their citizens to review and, if necessary, strengthen their climate policy based on the principles developed by the ECtHR to safeguard human rights. This would benefit everyone – young and old. 

Legal counsel at Greenpeace International Louise Fournier, who supported the legal team of the Swiss Senior Women for Climate Protection, said: “This doesn’t stop in Strasbourg. The KlimaSeniorinnen’s stories are also on the agenda for the International Court of Justice, where hearings on all governments’ climate justice obligations will be held early next year.”


UPDATE 10/04/2024: Information added on the two other climate case rulings delivered by the European Court of Human Rights.

Photos and video are available in the Greenpeace Media Library.


Learn more about the case in media documents from ECtHR and KlimaSeniorinnen

[1] The court rejected two other climate-related cases on procedural grounds. One of these was brought by a group of six Portuguese young people against 32 European governments and another by a former mayor of a low-lying French coastal town.

[2] The relevant documents submitted by both parties in the KlimaSeniorinnen case, as well as by third parties to the Grand Chamber for the proceedings, are listed below: 


Yvonne Anliker, Media Communications Manager, Greenpeace Switzerland, [email protected]

Louise Fournier, Greenpeace International Legal Counsel, Climate Justice and Liability, [email protected]

Greenpeace International Press Desk, +31 (0)20 718 2470 (available 24 hours), [email protected]

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