Contributed by Pia Hollenstein, board member of KlimaSeniorinnen, Senior Women for Climate Protection Switzerland

 

Along with my personal political engagement in the green party, I have become increasingly worried about the future of our climate.

Climbing in the Alps and ski touring in the winter are some of my favourite hobbies. In the past few years, I have definitely noticed that the glaciers are slowly disappearing. They are melting. The mountains look different from the way they looked ten years ago.

Not only do we have to deal more often with floods in the summer, elderly people are often advised to stay indoors when the temperature is above 30 degrees, as the heat could be dangerous to their health.

I’m convinced that we have a responsibility to undertake what needs to be done to avoid a global environmental catastrophe.  I believe that our government could and should undertake much more to prevent climate change, or to at least slow down the process.

I was asked by Greenpeace Switzerland to be a member on the board of an association - Senior Women for Climate Protection Switzerland, to undertake actions against climate change – of course I agreed.  The Association Senior Women for Climate Protection Switzerland, was founded in August 2016. Greenpeace had published a unique study exploring the most efficient way to reach our goals. One of the most intriguing outcomes showed that elderly women are an especially vulnerable group. In other words, they suffer more from the effects of climate change than others.

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So, our association decided to make a request to the National Government for a legal remedy. The request is based on evidence of increased health risk for older women whose life and health are more severely impacted by periods of hot weather than the rest of the population. From the perspective of the Applicants, the Respondents (government and parliament) failed and continue to fail to fulfil their protective duties found in the Federal Constitution (Art. 12.2 and Art. 47) and the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), Art. 13. - The goal of our request is to stop the on-going failure of the Swiss Confederation.

Who are the Applicants?

There are now around 600 members that are part of the association. We are demanding that the respondents take a decision to stop the contested emissions and to initiate any and all actions within their respective competence required under the Constitution and the ECHR to achieve the climate protection targets agreed to under international law. Since the Swiss Government signed the Paris Agreement, we insist that it will take all the actions necessary to reach the set goals, and the implementation of additional immediate measures.

We will continue to show that climate change is impacting people at this very moment. Just recently, four different women have made strong individual claims about the ways in which they have been affected by rising temperatures. That is our political situation at the moment, and it will endure. We will continue to keep the pressure up.

 

Pia Hollenstein, board member of KlimaSeniorinnen, Senior Women for Climate Protection Switzerland