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The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday ruled in favor of four Swiss women and members of Switzerland's Senior Women for Climate Protection who argued that the Swiss government had not done enough to combat climate change. Photo by Ronald Wittek/EPA-EFE upi April 9 (UPI) 

The European Court of Human Rights in France ruled in favor of four older Swiss women on Tuesday that Switzerland's lack of action on climate change was harming them. The court found that the Swiss government "failed to comply with its duties under the Convention concerning climate change in the case brought by the women, mostly in their 70s, and the group Senior Women for Climate Protection.

"The court found that the convention encompasses a right to effective protection by the state authorities from the serious adverse effects of climate change on lives, health, well-being and quality of life," the court said in a statement.

"The court held that there had been a violation of the right to respect for private and family life of the convention and that the had been a violation of the right to access to the court. The women said their age and gender made them more vulnerable to climate change and the government's actions were lacking in protecting them. They said the high temperatures made it so they were unable to leave their homes and that heat waves in Switzerland impacted their health. The ruling marked the first time the court had ruled in favor of plaintiffs in a climate case.

Sebastien Duyck, senior attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law said the decision will hopefully send a message to others about climate change agreements. "While we do not have all the details yet, this decision is historical," Duyck said. "The court has found the petition admissible and finds a violation of the right of the Klimaseniorinnen both process and on the substance." The court on Tuesday, however, also declared challenges by a French mayor and six young people from Portugal who argued that European governments were violating their human rights by not doing enough to deal with climate change.

In the latter case, the Portuguese citizens ranging in age from 11 to 24 charged that 32 EU countries were not doing enough to cut warming to a target goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius presented in the Paris Climate Agreement, citing wildfires that have ravaged the country every year since 2017. By Clyde Hughes, UPI News

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