human rights climate ruling
Credit: Stefan Müller /Flickr

Opinion: European court's climate ruling holds lessons for action on plastic pollution

A recent landmark decision by the European Court of Human Rights held Switzerland accountable for inadequate climate policies, specifically highlighting the increased risk of heatwave-related deaths among older women. Plastic production is another case where governments have failed to protect vulnerable groups.

Sian Sutherland writes for Euronews.


In short:

  • The climate case focused on collective rights to a healthy environment.
  • The ruling opens avenues for future legal actions against governments for failing to protect public health against environmental hazards.
  • Plastic production, involving hazardous chemicals, represents a similar negligence, affecting reproductive health and increasing disease risks.

Key quote:

"This...decision is about the right of groups of people to enjoy a 'healthy environment'."

— Sian Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet

Why this matters:

The climate case underscores the legal leverage that groups can use against governments that neglect environmental health policies. As negotiators meet in Ottawa this week to move toward agreement on a binding agreement to control plastic pollution, it's a timely message. Here's what to know about the fourth round of plastic treaty talks.

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