By: Jamela Wharton
Journal of Global Rights and Organization, Associate Articles Editor
STRASBOURG, France – The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) located in Strasbourg France, has decided to host Grand Chamber hearings for three climate change lawsuits. The cases are Verein KlimaSeniorinnen Schweiz and Others v. Switzerland (Verein), Carême v. France (Carême), and Duarte Agostinho and Others v. Portugal and 32 Other States (Duarte). There were other climate change cases that did not reach this stage. Two were deemed inadmissible, and there are six others that have been adjourned.
The Verein case was fast tracked which caused both hearings for the Carême and Verein cases to be held on March 29, 2023. Verein’s hearing was schedule in the morning, making it the first climate change case to be heard by the Grand Chamber of the EctHR. The Grand Chamber hearings are the last step before a judgment is rendered. The hearing for Duarte Agostinho and Others v. Portugal and 32 Other States does not have a hearing date yet, but it is expected to occur after the court’s 2023 summer recess.
The plaintiffs in all the climate change cases have asserted that their article two right to life of the European Convention on Human Rights has been violated. Verein argues that the Switzerland government failed to adequately mitigate the effects of climate change. The plaintiffs of this case are older members of the community who are concerned of the effects climate change may have on their living conditions and health. In Carême, the former mayor of a municipality in France contends that France has not taken the necessary steps to prevent the climate change crisis, and this failure amounts to a violation of the Convention. Duarte was brought against 33 member states for their role in greenhouse emissions. The applicants are made up of Portuguese nationals between the ages of 10 to 23. They claim the emissions cause a threat to their living conditions and health and is a violation of their right to life.
The decision is expected to determine whether a member state’s governmental inaction to mitigate climate change is a violation of human rights law. This decision would set a binding precedent to all member states.
For further information, please see:
ECtHR- Factsheet on Climate Change Cases Pending Before the Grand Chamber of the Court- Mar. 2023.
Greenpeace- First Climate Case Heard of the European Court of Human Rights – 29 Mar. 2023