Reduction of carbon dioxide emissions

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Switzerland's conviction by a European court confirms that a healthy climate is a fundamental right

The decision of the 17 judges of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, France, on April 9, 2024, is quite complex. His ruling is more than 300 pages long. The ruling refused to represent the four independent women, claiming that they had not sufficiently characterized their status of victims. However, it recognized this condition and the collective representation of the Association.

In the ruling, which is not subject to appeal, the court condemned the Swiss government for not taking sufficient measures to meet its own objective of reducing carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere by 50% by 2030, compared to emissions in the last decade of the century. past. Among the allegations is that the Swiss government did not even create a specific budget for the issue.

What will be the consequences of the decision? This is another complex matter. The Swiss Federal Justice Agency, which represents the government, said it will study the necessary measures to comply with the decision. It's complicated, because in 2021 a plebiscite in the country rejected the measures that were being taken, deeming them too severe.

On the other hand, if the government does not take the necessary measures, it could be sentenced to pay fines and other sanctions. It is expected to have an impact on civil construction, the transport system, vehicle circulation and energy supply and consumption. A spokesperson for “Swiss Grandmothers”, the Association's affectionate nickname, stated that she also expects regulatory measures to be taken against companies in the financial system that support activities that are harmful to the environment.

International impact?

As climate has no borders, the Strasbourg Court's decision, the first in the world of its kind, is also expected to have an international impact. In 2021, a UN resolution recognized that a healthy climate is a universal and inalienable human right.

The Supreme Court of India has already made a similar ruling, stating that it is part of the rights of citizenship to “remain free from the negative effects of climate change”. This was, in fact, the allegation of the Swiss Ladies' Association, stating that the heat waves resulting from these changes put their lives at risk due to their age and gender.

An impact is also expected in other areas relating to the environment. For example, there is an ongoing case against a Norwegian government decision authorizing new concessions for offshore oil exploration from 2035.

Effects in Brazil

According to the news agency Reuters, European experts also stated that the decision could have immediate effects in other countries, specifically mentioning Australia, Peru, South Korea and… Brazil.

Therefore, the invitation is open for lawyers, jurists, judges, law professors and students, environmental and human rights NGOs, as well as other interested parties, to immediately look into the implications of the decision in our country.

* Flavio Aguiar, journalist and writer, is a retired professor of Brazilian literature at USP. Author, among other books, of Chronicles of the World Upside Down (boitempo). []

Originally published on the website of France-International Radio.

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