Eco-heroines like the young Greta who awakened consciences and unleashed the “climate revolution”, Swiss women, who are not afraid to define themselves as elderly, are fighting against their government. An association Senior Women for Climate Protection Switzerland (KlimaSeniorinnen) has denounced the Swiss government to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
They feel their health is threatened by heatwaves exacerbated by the climate crisis. According to the association, it is older women who suffer more than others from the effects of global warming. “But we don’t do it just for us, it’s important that this fight also benefits the younger and future generations – they explain – the government’s climate objectives are far from the minimum requirements to avoid the catastrophic consequences of the warming of the atmosphere and for this reason they violate the Constitution. With this legal process, we are just fighting for our human rights.”
In Strasbourg with Greenpeace
“We hope that the European Court takes into account Switzerland’s duty to protect our lives and health from the negative consequences of climate change,” he explains Rosmarie Wydler-Wälti. Together with Anne Mahrer sailed on the Rhine from Basel to Strasbourg aboard a vessel MV Beluga-II made available to them by Greenpeace to symbolically deliver their appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Outside the court building, a large festoon was displayed consisting of hundreds of flags designed by people who support theappeal of older women for climate protection in Switzerland.
The hearing before the Grand Chamber of the Strasbourg Court is scheduled for March 29. From their website they launch an appeal: “It would be very nice if so many women gathered peacefully in front of the Tribunal on this day to support us”.
“We are old, but we fight hate”
“We old women – she says Elizabeth Stern one of the KlimaSeniorinnen activists who confesses to receiving insults and hate mail – we are the people who statistically will leave this planet in ten years anyway. For this, we consider ourselves doubly ‘vulnerable’. On the one hand, we are suffering from the direct effects of climate change, such as heat waves, and on the other hand, we are suffering from our public exposure because of our climate grievances. We take the blame and allow ourselves to be insulted and denigrated.”
Indomitable, they carry on with their heads held high. “If we were to win the Strasbourg court, a climate policy will help improve the lives of our children and grandchildren – explains Stern – And I must admit that it has always been important to us to do something that also has a positive effect on the younger generation. They are the future, not us. If, due to our particular vulnerability, we can still contribute to the conditions necessary for an environment in which our children and grandchildren can thrive, that simply makes me happy.”
“We defend young activists”
They say they are infuriated by legal moves against young activists who take non-violent climate action. Elisabeth Stern is keen to point out: “Those who support the crisis continue to finance the extraction of fossil fuels and rake in obscene profits. It is no wonder that young people in Switzerland see their future in an increasingly gloomy light. They worry about the climate (along with war) and wonder if people, including themselves, have enough time to adapt to climate change. They know nature will eventually recover. They ask me questions like, ‘Can you give me advice on how to convince my mother and grandmother to take action too?’ This is what young students asked me recently, almost desperately”.
For the first time, the European Court of Human Rights will be able to judge the climate protection measures of a member state. And whether climate action to protect citizens is a basic human right.