Is action on climate change a human right? A European court rules for the first time

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Strasbourg (France):  Europe’s highest human rights court threw out a case Tuesday brought by six Portuguese youths aimed at forcing countries to meet international obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but sided with a group of senior Swiss women who also sought such measures.

The European Court of Human Rights came down with decisions in a trio of cases brought by a French mayor, the six Portuguese youngsters and more than 2,000 members of Senior Women for Climate Protection, who say their governments are not doing enough to combat climate change.

Lawyers for all three had hoped the Strasbourg court would find that national governments have a legal duty to make sure global warming is held to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, in line with the goals of the Paris climate agreement. But Judge Siofra O’Leary, the president of the European Court of Human Rights, came down with mixed judgements.

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