Factbox-Who are the elderly Swiss women behind the landmark climate court case win?

By Thomson Reuters Apr 9, 2024 | 8:18 AM

(Reuters) – The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on Tuesday ruled in favour of a group of elderly Swiss women who said their government’s inadequate efforts to combat climate change put them at risk of dying during heatwaves.

Here is some information about this group:


The association of Swiss women, known as KlimaSeniorinnen, has more than 2,500 members. Throughout its legal battle, it said it was seeking women “aged 64 and older living in Switzerland – because women over 75 are especially at risk”.

The group receives support from Greenpeace Switzerland, which guaranteed the costs of the legal initiative.

The Swiss women said Bern violated their right to life by failing to cut emissions in line with a pathway that limits global warming to 1.5C (2.7F) to fend off the most severe consequences of temperature change.

Their case cited a U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that found women and older adults were among those at highest risk of temperature-related deaths during heatwaves.

Bruna Molinari, who is in her eighties and suffers from asthma, was among the women who delivered their claim to the European Court of Human Rights last year.

“As a grandmother and mother, I think they have the right to have a climate that is better than the one we have,” she said at the time, struggling to repress her cough.


The association held its inaugural meeting in August 2016, when it had only 40 members.

As more and more women joined the group, it began to make its legal claims at the national level, submitting legal requests to Switzerland’s Federal Council, among other entities, in November 2016.

When the Federal Supreme Court dismissed their case in 2020, they announced plans to turn to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.


Switzerland is warming at more than twice the global rate and its glaciers are melting fast. Bern outlined a plan to make deeper emissions cuts but voters rebuffed it in 2021 because it was viewed as too burdensome.

The Swiss justice ministry has described the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling as final and said it must be implemented.

“Together with the authorities concerned, we will now analyse the extensive judgment and review what measures Switzerland will take in the future,” it said, without elaborating.

A spokesperson for the Swiss Energy Ministry reacted to the ruling by saying: “We’re on a good path. We’re doing a lot.”


The verdict, which cannot be appealed, could compel the Swiss federal government to take greater action on reducing emissions, including revising its 2030 emissions reductions targets to get in line with the Paris Agreement goal of limiting warming to 1.5 C.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber in Geneva; editing by Barbara Lewis)