Why the European climate judgment also concerns us

There European court of human rights decided: Switzerland found guilty of climate inaction.

An inaction whose consequences are already affecting the well-being and health of people to the point of potentially leading to premature death.

Thus, this high court recognizes that government climate inaction violates the right to life and the right to privacy.

Rights protected by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.


For the first time in history, an international court is forcing a country to adopt more ambitious environmental policies.

But above all, it creates jurisprudence which applies to the 46 member countries of the Council of Europe.

This concerns 700 million people living in a territory of nearly 7 million km2 who together emit 4.9 billion tonnes of GHGs. That’s about 9% of global emissions.

Impacts here

Although changes in behavior imposed by a court take some time to be practicable and apply in a given territory, eventually they will have consequences so far.

For the sake of fairness and competitiveness, these 46 European states will want other countries to be subject to similar government requirements.

This should help to raise the climate ambitions of international agreements and thus accelerate the energy transition everywhere on the planet.

These 46 countries will be right to demand more environmental performance criteria from their trading partners.

This trend is already being felt in several commercial agreements as well as from companies whose shareholders are demanding a reduction in their carbon footprint and better social and environmental performance.

In this regard, Quebec could emerge a winner considering its capacity to offer renewable energy. However, nothing should be taken for granted.

Despite our hydroelectricity and our fine words, in reality, Quebec’s GHG emissions have increased in recent years.

Per capita, an average Quebecer emits much more than a Chinese or an Indian. And even almost twice as much as a Swiss!

Switzerland was put in order by the court because it can and must do more. This is just as true for Quebec.

Violation of human rights here too

It is time for our courts to recognize that here too climate inaction violates the right to life and other fundamental human rights protected by our charters.

Certain cases are also before the courts and could force governments to act.

The scientific data is clear about the consequences of our climate inaction on our well-being and our health as well as our right to a healthy environment that respects biodiversity.

We are already experiencing it and we know that it will be worse for our children and grandchildren.

Our governments know this very well. Their vision, however, is too short-term to act with the necessary ambition. This is precisely why the courts must intervene.

It is up to them to defend our fundamental rights.

It is not too late to act. Every fraction of a degree counts to avoid the worst.

source site-64