ECHR ruling and climate crisis

A beacon of accountability or judicial overreach?

Letter of the Day

Sir, – Amid the disconcerting developments in European environmental policy, the recent decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) concerning the Swiss government’s inadequate climate action emerges as not merely opportune, but indispensable (“Weak government climate policies ‘violate fundamental human rights’, European Court of Human Rights rules”, News, April 9th).

I view this judgment as a beacon of accountability, particularly when legislative actions fall short of protecting our environment and, thereby, our fundamental human rights.

Recent setbacks are alarming: the dilution of essential environmental safeguards in the Common Agricultural Policy, the obstruction of the Nature Restoration Law, and a troubling pivot in the EU’s strategic priorities away from sustainability towards commercial and military interests, as highlighted in the letter “ECHR decision on climate case and judicial overreach” (April 18th). These actions signify abandonment of the liveable outcomes targeted by the European Green Deal, which was supposed to steer Europe toward a greener future.

The ECHR’s decision stands as a critical counterweight to these regressions. It underscores the judiciary’s role in safeguarding the rights of those most vulnerable to climate change when politics fails us. This judgment extends beyond environmental policy; it reaffirms that human rights are inextricably linked to the health of our environment.


As we approach the local and European elections, it is imperative that we demand more than mere rhetoric regarding environmental sustainability from our candidates. We need leaders who not only pledge but also demonstrate a genuine commitment to the European Green Deal, ensuring that environmental considerations are not merely included, but prioritised in our policies.

Let us use this judicial intervention as a rallying cry to bolster our legislative frameworks and elect local and European representatives who will uphold and advance the protection of our environment. The survival of our ecosystems, the quality of our air, the food on our tables, and the future of younger generations hinge on our decisions today. – Yours, etc,



An Taisce,

Dublin 8.

Sir, – Like life, freedom and justice, weather conditions are now proclaimed to be a “human right”.

What’s next? Anything. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.