The European Court of Human Rights ruled last week in favour of a group of elderly Swiss women who had argued that their government’s inadequate efforts to combat climate change put them at risk of dying during heatwaves.


The verdict, which can’t be appealed, is a potential turning point for climate action.


It could compel the Swiss government to take greater action on reducing emissions, like revising Switzerland’s 2030 emissions reductions targets to get in line with the Paris Agreement.


The European court’s ruling, brought by more than 2,000 elderly women, could have a ripple effect across Europe and beyond, setting a precedent for how courts deal with the rising tide of climate litigation.


But in a sign of the complexities of climate litigation, the court rejected two similar climate-related cases. The first, brought by six young people from Portugal against 32 European governments including Ireland, and another by the former mayor of a low-lying French coastal town.


The verdict could also influence future rulings at the Strasbourg court, which had put six other climate cases on hold pending last week’s decisions.