PHOTO: Adrian Grycuk

Newspapers in Switzerland have criticised a climate change ruling against the Swiss government by Europe’s top human rights court, saying it risks undermining democracy and the political clout of environmental groups.

Tuesday’s ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in favour of over 2,000 Swiss women who said the Swiss government had not done enough to combat climate change is expected to embolden more people to bring climate cases against governments.

As environmental groups celebrated the ruling by the Strasbourg court, newspaper editorials said the decision would fan fears that the judiciary was getting involved in politics.

“Absurd verdict against Switzerland: Strasbourg pursues climate policy from the judges bench,” the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) wrote.

Describing the ruling as “activist jurisprudence” that could pave the way for “all kinds of claims”, the paper said the elderly plaintiffs were ultimately pawns of environmental lobbies that used the court to circumvent democratic debate.

Switzerland, where referendums regularly test the limits of national policymaking, has committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030, from 1990 levels.

The government had proposed stronger measures to deliver the goal, but voters rebuffed them in a 2021 referendum.

Under the headline “We don’t want climate justice”, Blick called the court’s ruling “questionable” and warned it was likely to deepen divisions over climate policy.

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By Michael